84 years. That is enough time to tell a life story, full of people, meetings, events, emotions, happiness and pain. 84 years are three-quarters of the history of our club. 84 years of Inter as a 100% fan.
Giancarla Gariati has a lot of Inter in her. We would need a whole book just to talk of the passion that drives her and her life-long bond to the Inter colours. When she walked into San Siro – effectively her second home – with Socios.com as ‘Fan of the month’ it was difficult to keep her emotions in check.
Then, with her incredible energy, she gets going. “My story starts in 1937 in Vigonzone, a part of Torrevecchia Pia in the province of Pavia. The first signs of my love for Inter go back to when I was eight years old and a Nerazzurri scarf that my grandmother made for me. My early childhood was dedicated to work. I was the fifth of eleven children and worked for a family as a servant, rice-weeder and chamber maid.”
The stadium was the place of dreams, enjoyed together with her husband, also an Inter fan. Sundays were dedicated to Inter, with Giacinto Facchetti her idol, the symbol of the club and an example for everyone. From 1962, she went to San Siro whenever she could and then “my husband and I were season-ticket holders every year for 15 years until he was diagnosed with ALS and passed away in 1993.”
Here Giancarla does not lose her composure and with gentle firmness explains how the shared passion for the Inter colours effectively served as a connection with her husband even towards the end when the degenerative disease made it impossible for them to speak to each other. “He spoke to me with his eyes. He said, ‘Giancarla go to the match even by yourself.’ And I tried to reassure him. ‘Ercole, you get better, and we will go together. On my own, I would get lost.’
Ercole’s window at San Carlo hospital looked towards San Siro. “He was still there mentally, so we thought up a way to take him to the stadium one last time. On the ward, we asked for permission to go to a christening. But there was no christening. That day, I managed to take Ercole to San Siro for one last time.”
Giancarla has been a member of the Paullo Inter Club for more than 25 years and is already signed up for the next two years. She goes to games by herself. “I've already got my ticket for the Inter v Juve and the Inter v Udinese games, block 215, row 9, seat 26. I go to the ground by tram.”
Along with her new GIANCARLA 84 shirt, she wears only blue and black: from her nails to her watch, everything is Inter, including the wristband with the number 37, the year she was born.
“When Skriniar joined Inter, I didn’t know how to pronounce his surname. We all know that his first name is unpronounceable,” she laughs. “His number is my number. At the game, I shout my instructions down to him on the pitch.
“My memories go back to Facchetti, Mario Corso – I often go to the cemetery to pay my respects – Mauro Bellugi. And Javier Zanetti is always in my heart.” And she still enjoys the sounds of the stadium, even today, so many years after the first game at San Siro. “In fact, at the end of last season, when the stadium was closed, but we could go out, I used to leave home, take the tram, go to the square outside San Siro and enjoy the game live listening to my transistor radio. What a lot of cheering when [Matteo] Darmian scored in Inter v Verona. Listening to the radio is something that goes back to the 1960s and continues today when Inter play away.
“Just Inter – always. Now that I have my own special shirt, I shall have to decide when to use it. Should I wear it on my long walks in Parco Nord or even when I go to work? I am not joking. I still work as a housemaid three times a week.” Giancarla never stops, running tirelessly on her blue-and black engine.”