Piazza Vittorio, RomeOkay, this falls firmly under the ‘things we do as parents for our kids’ category.

My half-Italian sons are – like 99.9% of their peers- crazy about calcio (soccer for Americans, football for Brits). Here, all the kids collect football cards, buying packets, putting them in their albums, trading them with their friends.

But the problem is – what do you do when you have a stack of doubles of Mario Balotelli and you really need that one of Carlos Tévez, to complete your Juventus page? Yes, scarily enough, I know far more about football than I ever cared to.

Luckily, the company that produces these cards runs annual fairs in all the major Italian cities. They just held Rome’s 2014 Panini Tour in Piazza Vittorio.

Piazza Vittorio, RomeThe Panini tour (named for the company that produces the cards) allows you to buy officially from the company, but the real fun is all the trading going on around the official tent.

This year’s fair was held on a sunny Saturday in February, and the square was packed with eager boys and girls (though mostly the former).

While one of my sons was off playing tennis, I accompanied the other to this event. My son was bombarded with requests to trade as soon as we stepped foot on the piazza. It was fun to watch the level of enthusiasm, and many of the fathers who seemed as excited as their sons.

Piazza Vittorio, Rome
Going home happy…

By the end of our time, we’d gotten rid of many of our doubles, and come home with a whole load of new cards for my children’s collection.

For me, it was fun to see this slice of Italian life – and if you happen to be in Rome or other Italian cities during the Panini Tour, I recommend that you stop by – especially if you have kids in tow. It’s a fun way to experience Italian soccer mania.

Enjoy your day of trading sports cards on a sunny piazza in Rome!