Francesco Totti is a man who needs no introduction.
The now-retired Italian forward is a cult figure, having helped AS Roma secure one of their three Scudetti during an illustrious career at the Stadio Olimpico.
Unsurprisingly, he is revered by Giallorossi fans and boasts a godlike status among supporters given his decision to stick by his boyhood club, despite receiving a string of enticing offers from other major European teams during his career.
Such is his stellar reputation, the 43-year-old – who hung up his boots in 2017 – has become the subject of several murals around the city of his birth as his influence continues to extend past the confines of the pitch and cross over into popular culture.
These pieces of artwork have been etched onto many a bucket list and tourists, not necessarily of a sporting persuasion, have been known to seek out the graffiti.
Francesca Ferlito, Homefans’ Rome guide, said: “After [Francesco] Totti’s retirement and [Daniele] De Rossi’s farewell many pieces of artwork have appeared around the city, especially in the areas where they were born or where they grew up.
“The Rione Monti mural was created by street artists in 2001, for the third – and latest – AS Roma championship.
“I don’t believe it is indicated in usual Rome guides, you probably only know about it if you are a fan or if someone tells you about it. It is close to the Colosseum and many local pubs so I’d suggest going there in the evening.”
However, not everybody is reading from the same hymn sheet when it comes to signing the praises of one of AS Roma’s favourite sons.
The murals have been the target of vandalism on several occasions, with profanities daubed and images of Totti’s likeness defaced.
The finger of culpability has regularly been pointed at rival Lazio fans, some of whom are perhaps not keen to see AS Roma’s on-pitch achievements championed over their own.
Ferlito is adamant that there are plans to combat similar incidents from taking place in the future and has called for the unique artwork to be respected by everyone who encounters it.
She said: “Since the mural suffered many incidents of vandalism and in order to avoid other cases – also in other streets – the Councillor of the Municipality proposed to put CCTV cameras in the area. But nothing has been done yet.
“I believe the vandalism is extremely sad, because it is not a matter of a club support. It is art, first of all. And I believe that art should be respected by everyone.”
While Lazio fans are likely to have attempted to spoil the artwork in order to stamp out its importance, it has surely only fuelled the appetite of potential visitors searching for photos for their football scrapbook.
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