Super Bowl Frenzy: Packers, Steelers Bars Two Blocks Apart in Rome
Next game: February 6th at Super Bowl XLV vs. Pittsburgh
Packers Gameday at 3:00 p.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ with coverage on Live at 5 and 10 on TODAY'S TMJ4 and Super Bowl Frenzy coverage online here.
ROME - Lines are being drawn between Packers and Steelers fans all over for this Super Bowl.
That includes a place where there's a Packers bar and Steelers bar two blocks away from each other, but 5,615 miles away from Dallas - in Rome, Italy.
The Abbey Theatre, an Irish Pub on the Via del Governo Vecchio in Downtown Rome, is the home to the Eternal City's Packers bar.
Carl, an Irishman who works there, tells us that they have shown every Packers game there for the last three years, and dozens of fans show up on Packers gamedays.
"On average, maybe 25 or 30," Carl said to Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Jay Sorgi about his bar that suddenly has two green-related themes to sport on Super Bowl Sunday.
"There are a lot of people from the Wisconsin area that support Green Bay."
Two blocks down, on the Via di Tor Millina, is La Botticella, which is nearly as much of a Steelers bar as what you might find on Market Square or Boulevard of the Allies in Pittsburgh.
"(The Abbey is) one of our rival bars for business," admitted Giovanni Poggi, a Steelers fanatic whose bar has become a bit of a pilgrimage point for Pittsburghers who vacation in Rome.
He's a Steelers fan who was born in Italy, but grew up in Canada. and a neighbor turned him onto the Steelers during their championship years in the 70's.
"Six, seven years ago, this became a hangout for students from universities from Western Pennsylvania. We started broadcasting the games, and Steeler fever started all over again."
You almost never find a fan of another team heading into La Botticella, but "any other fan of any other team can come in and watch games," according to Poggi, so a Packers fan that stumbles in won't get the heave-ho.
Carl says that his place is not exclusively a Packers bar, as fans of the Bears, Giants and Jets often find their way to the Abbey Theatre.
However, it is preparing for the influx of Packers fans to invade, along with a possible overflow of Steelers fans who can't get into La Botticella.
"We would expect more Packers fans, even though there's a lot of Steelers fans and they won't be able to get into the other bars. We'll happily serve them and take their money."
"The Abbey Theatre is a beautiful bar. They're going to be packing in a lot of Packers fans, so it will hopefully be quiet for the whole night," explained Poggi.
Sports fans who watch games at bars know that there are levels of being a "Packers bar" or "Steelers bar."
Admittedly, La Botticella may have the advantage on the Abbey Theatre in terms of its level of team pub-ness.
To begin with, four times as many Steelers fans get into La Botticella compared to Abbey Theatre and the Packers fans it hosts.
When it comes to decorations, La Botticella also has the advantage, both in terms of Steelers and Packers paraphernalia.
"We have an Italian Terrible Towel hanging, (along with) the normal Terrible Towel. We have signs saying 'Home of the Steelers fan,' and 'Reserved parking for Italian Pittsburgh fans only' and 'Reserved parking for Steeler fans," said Poggi.
But they also have a permanent Packers pennant.
"When I see the fans come in, I hear them complain about the Cowboys pennant, but I never hear them complain about the Green Bay pennant."
Carl said the folks at the Abbey Theatre will make sure more Packers paraphernalia is there for the big game.
How about the quintessential ale of each team?
"We don't have Miller or Miller Lite," admits Carl, who says they do carry the main Wisconsin product - though it's not made in Wisconsin.
"Cheese products, yeah, but it would be Italian cheese."
According to Poggi, they don't serve the most famous Pittsburgh beer, either.
"Unfortunately you can't get (Iron City) over here, not in Europe."
Still, that doesn't stop either bar from packing in the green and gold to match the green of the Irish theme at the Abbey Theatre, or the black and gold at La Botticella.
Each side certainly hopes their team wins.
Poggi, who was once given the key to the city of Pittsburgh, says he predicts a 24-17 Steelers win, and is willing to give a friendly wager to his counterparts from the Abbey Theatre.
"I hope we can meet up after the game, or just meet halfway up the street. I'll be fine to offer them a pint of my beer if they win, and they offer me a pint of beer if I win."
Carl's additional hope is a little more pragmatic, considering the 12:30 a.m. Monday morning kickoff in Rome.
"I just hope it doesn't go to overtime."