TURIN, Italy: An ice-cream flavor in his honor, a pizza named after him, queues to buy his shirt: For some, Cristiano Ronaldo is as important as the Pope.
Juventus made shockwaves over the world on Tuesday when it completed the signing of Ronaldo from Real Madrid for a Serie A record of 112 million euros, with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner signing a four-year deal with the Italian champion.
And Ronaldo mania is in full swing in Turin, with enterprising businessmen not missing the opportunity to celebrate the occasion and cash in on the arrival of the Portugal forward.
Leonardo La Porta, who has owned Gelateria Miretti in the heart of Turin for 30 years, has created a flavor called CR7 ? Ronaldo’s famous brand name.
The 50-year-old La Porta is not a Juventus supporter, nor even a football fan, but has often creates flavors to mark important events in the city.
However, he has only created one flavor in honor of a person before ? when the Pope came to Turin in 2015.
La Porta put a lot of thought into creating the CR7 flavor, which he wanted to represent a union between Portugal and Turin.
“I put it on sale on the date 7/7 because it was the day it was rumored Cristiano Ronaldo would be presented,” La Porta told The Associated Press. “I thought of it a week before … the research was quite intense.
“We chose to use a typical Portuguese liquor which is the Ginja, it is a sour cherry liquor which strongly links Portugal to the Piedmont region because here too in Piedmont we have a similar cherry liquor. In Portugal this liquor is served in a chocolate cup, so this ice cream is made up of milk, cream, sugar and carob flour, with this Ginja liquor and pieces of chocolate.”
The taste is rich and flavorful, with hints of spice and fruit
“I hope (Ronaldo) can come here to try it,” said La Porta, adding the flavor regularly sells out. “If not, I’m ready to go to his house to make it for him. We’ll see.”
Nearby is a pizza restaurant, which is also hoping to attract the footballing superstar.
Tommy Tegamino, which is owned by two Juventus season-ticket holders, brothers Filippo (31-years-old) and Tommaso Crozaso (26), now boasts the “Pizza CR7.”
The deep-dish pizza is topped with stracchino cheese and black olives in the shape of the number “7” and that also symbolizes the black and white colors of Juventus.
It costs an appropriate seven euros ($8.17).
“We all hope he’ll come!” laughed Sara Giulia Peira, the 35-year-old manager of the oldest of the three branches of Tommy Tegamino. “Maybe if he finds out he’ll come here to try it, it’ll be great.
“We decided to do it right when we heard the official news that he was coming here. In fact it was only Wednesday that we started selling it. Our owners decided with our pizza chef to celebrate the Portuguese star … It’s going well, especially with the fans obviously.”
Some of the incredulous fans are still rubbing their eyes in disbelief that Ronaldo is joining Juventus.
Raimondo Livolsi, a 37-year-old laborer from Turin said he thought “it was a hoax” when news of Ronaldo’s possible arrival first emerged, while Errico Tolve joked that he needed “a truckload of malox” to settle his stomach.
Tolve, a 59-year-old school worker from Foggia, who was in Turin with his wife visiting their daughter, was buying a ‘Ronaldo’ shirt for his nephew.
“There’s no chance for anyone now, not in Italy or Europe,” he added. “The Champions League is ours. 100 per cent.”
Juventus has won the league for the past seven years, and the Italian Cup the past four, but has not lifted the Champions League since 1996 ? although it has finished runner-up in two of the past four editions.
Shirts bearing Ronaldo’s name have been flying off the shelves and not just in Turin. The official Juventus store in Milan has been selling an estimated one shirt a minute.
Stores are also running out of letters to print Ronaldo’s name, while the shop nearest the stadium reportedly ran out of the actual shirt on Wednesday night as the city gears up to welcome the man himself, at his presentation on Monday.
Ronaldo should also find it easy to settle into life in Turin. Although it has less than a third of Madrid’s population, Turin is still Italy’s fourth-largest city, within easy reach of the mountains and the sea.
“I think he will like it here,” said Simone Massucco, a 17-year-old student from Turin, who was buying his first Juventus shirt ? emblazoned with the Ronaldo name. “It’s not a city where the fans hassle you too much. I think he will settle in well.”
Turin is an industrial city and the home of Fiat, which ? like Juventus ? is also controlled by the Agnelli family.
While most fans are welcoming the arrival of Ronaldo, with even supporters of opposing teams recognizing the prestige that it brings to the Italian game, there is a minority which is unhappy at the cost of the deal.
A small group of former Fiat Chrysler factory workers and union activists hung banners against the deal, on a wall outside a car factory in Naples, while strikes have been planned for Friday in Pomigliano and for Monday and Tuesday in another Fiat factory in Melfi. —AP