Marco Di Vaio embraces his newly adopted city as home

The Italian striker and his family enjoying Montreal

Marco Di Vaio has truly embraced the city of Montreal.

Almost one year since joining the Impact as it’s first ever Designated Player, Di Vaio has won the hearts of Montrealers as the team’s true bomber.

“I think of myself as a real Montrealer now,” said Di Vaio. “My family’s experience here has been positive. We are really happy and everyone has been really nice.”

Di Vaio had first settled in the suburb of Westmount, where he and his family have now set up roots as one of its 19,000 residents, and often he can be found chasing his two daughters, Sofia and Sara, at Westmount or King George Park. However, one of his family’s favourite things to do involves a green monster and a few thrills.

“In the summer time, it’s always La Ronde for my girls,” said Di Vaio, with a smirk. “From the moment it opens its doors, they want to head out and go on the rides.”

When asked about the progress his family has made in the city, Di Vaio’s smile is as telling as his answer.

“We have made many friends and have become involved in the community, with our neighbours and others. So many people have been kind to us and we feel like we are truly part of this community. My daughters go to their friends’ houses to play; we have gatherings at our place. It’s become home for us.”

The grin on the man who spent his childhood growing up in the youth ranks of the Serie A team Lazio is even bigger when asked how his daughters have progressed in learning two new languages.

“They’ve advanced so much. They go to a school where they learn both French and English, which was important for us, and they are now at ease and learning so much after just about eight months in school here,” he said with pride.

Di Vaio, who is more comfortable in French than English having played in Monaco, has become more at ease in conducting interviews in both languages, but he grimaces when discussing his own linguistic  progression.

“The problem is that so many people speak Italian in Montreal that we don’t get to practice French or English enough on a personal level. We go out into the community or at a store where someone speaks Italian. And there are a lot of Italians on the team too, so that doesn’t help.”

READ:  Marco Di Vaio named on the MLS All-Star roster vs AS Roma

One of the more pleasant discoveries for the former Bologna-man was the realization that each borough of the city had something particular about it, whether it was a restaurant, a pretty street or a park.

“I really like walking around and discovering Westmount and Outremont,” said Di Vaio. “Laurier Street is a nice spot to take a walk or stop in at a café. Old Montreal is also nice to stop by when interested in some French cuisine.”

One thing is for sure, no matter where in Montreal, after practice or on a day off, food and a good coffee is a big part of Di Vaio’s Montreal experience thus far.

“After training in the winter, we’d always stop by and have some food at the restaurant Capucine at the Marie-Victorin complex. In the summer, after training at the Claude-Robillard sports complex, we’d stop in at Café Dante or Caffe San Simeon, depending on whether we want some lunch or just relax with an espresso.”

As a dedicated athlete himself, Di Vaio has a lot of respect for his compatriots from other sports and likes to spend some of his down time watching tennis or basketball, even though he feels he probably couldn’t play either sport at a high level.

“I love basketball, but I really don’t have the physique for it,” he jokes. “I love to watch tennis, but my hand-eye coordination isn’t as good as that with my feet.”

Although the Impact’s Designated Player has nothing but positive experiences over his first year in Montreal, there is one thing that has let him down so far in 2013.

“The weather this summer has not been good,” he said with conviction. “It’s unfortunate because we were all waiting anxiously, especially after a beautiful summer last year and a really long winter!”

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