Bhajis and cricket balls in Brescia
By Mark Duff
BBC News, Brescia
The heat is stifling, the air thick with the smell of samosas and bhajis, and the noise deafening - a cacophony of Bangla beats, traditional Punjabi drums and a relentless, manic commentary.
This is the San Polo municipal football ground on the outskirts of Brescia - a big industrial city in the north of Italy home to one of the biggest south Asian communities in the country.
The football ground has seen better days. But the atmosphere is electric. By 1030 the crowd is already excited, attentive, enthused.
The attraction is cricket - the final rounds of a limited overs competition.
But this is far from the English idyll of the village green.
The pitch consists of sheets of hardboard laid over the heat-blasted mud of the football pitch.
The players do not have any proper kit. And the ball is white - a tennis ball, lovingly wrapped in white tape to make it heavier and faster, a "tapeball".
The inspiration is the fast, popular and big bucks Twenty20 cricket of the Indian Premier League.
Brescia's south Asian community has mixed feelings about living in Italy
As 22-year-old Hassan Shahib, puts it: "This game is all about sixes; sixes and wickets."
Hassan is originally from Pakistani Punjab. His best friend here is Surjit Singh - from Indian Punjab.
While Hassan likes Italy, Surjit is not so sure.
"It's not a good place to live", he says. "Most Italians only speak their own language and so - unlike Indians and Pakistanis - they don't mix well with people from other cultures."
Hassan agrees: the place could benefit from a "multicultural mix-up", he says - a concert, perhaps, featuring Italian, Asian and English popular music where everyone could relax and meet people from other backgrounds.
Brescia's cricketers have not had it easy. They have been barred from the city's parks because residents complained they were being peppered with cricket balls.
Now, that has changed, says Safder Mahfooz - president of Pakistan Sports Club Brescia.
"Within five minutes the police move in to break up any game," he says.
Brescia's city hall dates back to the Renaissance.
This is where the deputy mayor, 32-year-old Fabio Rolfi, works, in a high-ceilinged, wood-panelled office.
Mr Rolfi is a member of the Northern League - a party set up almost 20 years ago to push for greater autonomy for the more productive and wealthy north of Italy.
The League is almost invariably described as xenophobic. But Fabio Rolfi has a surprise in store.
Cricket is a long way from being a mainstream sport in Italy
Yes, he says, there have been complaints about cricket in the parks; and, yes, it has been banned, with local police ordered to halt games.
But, he insists: "This isn't an attempt to criminalise a sport. It's simply a matter of public safety."
Brescia is not spoilt for open spaces - and getting hit by a fast-moving cricket ball can hurt.
There is more - Mr Rolfi announces that the council has just agreed to build a permanent cricket ground on the edge of town.
"I want to see more Italian kids take it up," he adds. "Cricket can help build links between the Italian and immigrant communities - and help us avoid some of the problems we've seen in the past."
Immigration is relatively new to Italy - which does not have the imperial legacy of countries like Britain or France, or the tradition of the United States.
Little things - like the limited open space in most Italian cities - do matter; and if cricket needs one thing, it is space.
Brescia's deputy mayor isn't being altruistic.
He is a politician - a pragmatist who simply can no longer afford to ignore the demands of his hometown's large south Asian community.
And in this case pragmatism - it would seem - might just be the best way to start building a better life for everyone.