Thu, Jun 08, 2006 - Page 18 News List

World Cup: Italians craftily avoid German food

AP , DUISBURG, GERMANY

There are some 600,000 Italians living in Germany, so it's only natural that one of them runs the hotel where the Azzurri will stay.

Antonio Pelle has lived in Germany for 33 years, yet he still identifies himself by his native region rather than country.

"I'm Calabrese, not Italian," Pelle said on Tuesday, brimming with excitement a day before Italy's team was scheduled to arrive.

Pelle runs the Landhaus Milser hotel with owner Rolf Milser, a weightlifting gold medalist for Germany at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

The usual array of pasta, prosciutto, olive oil, parmesan cheese and tomatoes will accompany the Azzurri on their flight from Pisa. In a break from past tournaments, though, the team won't have to bring too many chefs -- just one, in fact.

Pelle will provide the rest.

Of the hotel's 47 staff members, "all the important ones -- chefs and waiters -- are Italian," he said, adding that the team will not eat any German cuisine during its stay.

"The hotel is ready, and we're ready for Italy to win the World Cup," he said, gesturing to the Italian flags waving all over the inn. "We were lucky. It's the realization of a dream."

With 50 rooms, no players will have to share accommodations.

More Italian flavor is on hand a few kilometers away at Casa Azzurri, Italy's hospitality center.

The facility, still unfinished just days ahead of its inauguration, is set up on one side of the MSV Arena, the local Duisburg club's 31,000-seat stadium.

Its main components will be a massive Italian coffee bar, a 100-seat dining hall, a stage and concert area, jumbo screens to watch World Cup matches, press conference areas and multiple exhibition spaces.

The cost is estimated at 1 million euros (US$1.3 million) and 150 workers -- virtually all of them from Italy -- are setting the place up.

A staff of 55 will work in the kitchen with five chefs, including Cesare Marchetti, who has a cooking show on Italian TV.

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