When you think of Italy, you think of pasta, Michelangelo or maybe soccer -- or football, as the rest of the world calls it. But an hour's drive away from Venice in the province of Vincenza, a group of dedicated fans get together to celebrate the other kind of football.
The first official team fan club in Italy, New England Patriots – Italia has helped to unite some of the country's most fervent Patriots supporters.
"We are currently at 106 and we are growing. We are proud of this, despite the difficulties of seeing the games given the time zone," said the club's founder, Giuseppe Pulpito.
To catch the games every week, fans from the club watch via satellite or take advantage of subscription services like NFL Game Pass. Once the Patriots make it to the playoffs however, the club makes every effort to gather their members together. They look for opportunities where members can plan the trip to the group's watch location, with time to return home after the event.
"We meet for important events like the Super Bowl or the playoffs when our Pats play," Giuseppe said.
Since they don't see each other as frequently as other clubs, members of New England Patriots – Italia communicate with each other on their Facebook page. Plus their love for the team has bonded them together even if some of their fellow countrymen don't understand.
"It is enough to perceive it from how we talk about it," Giuseppe said. "Given that our country loves soccer and we play American football, seeing matches or images or documentaries on the Patriots, on Tom Brady or [Bill] Belichick, even with the distance, we are [bonded] in a special way."
As the club has grown and people continue to share their thoughts on the team, Giuseppe feels nothing but pride for how far the club has come since their founding 2013. It is a passoin, he said, that the members may have learned from the soccer fans in their country.
"The love and passion of all members, their hunger to know our team, and above all, the discussions we have on the various game situations, it's a very Italian way that comes from soccer," Giuseppe said.
With Foxborough almost 4,000 miles away from Vincenza, Giuseppe hopes that the club will be able to make a trip together to catch a game in person.
"It would be great, a pilgrimage of all members would be a dream. Unfortunately, the costs are high for us," Giuseppe said. "But there are members who go on a personal level, like myself and others. It was fantastic and very exciting."
Passionately cheering on a sports team is the DNA of Italians and you can count on New England Patriots – Italia to support their team.