Meet Rolf Bantle, a Swiss football fan who lived on the streets of Milan, Italy, for over a decade just because he lost his way after a match!
As it turns out, Bantle used to be a resident of an alcoholics’ rehabilitation center in Läufelfingen in the canton of Basel-Country. He had been on a day trip to the San Siro stadium in Milan, on August 24, 2004, to watch his home team FC Basel play Inter Milan, in a Champions League match. But by the end of the match, he was reported missing, as he failed to show up at the bus that had transported him and his fellow Swiss football fans to the stadium. They left home without him.
Bantle, 71, recently told a Swiss newspaper his version of events – he had visited the toilet at the stadium that fateful day, where he became disoriented and could not locate his friends. “I was suddenly in a different sector,” he said. “I had about 20 euros in my pocket and no phone so I wandered into Milan. People gave me food and cigarettes, and one student offered me a sleeping bag.”
Photo: video caption
Instead of panicking, Bantle realised that he “had no commitments” and no relatives to go home to, and that he rather “enjoyed the freedom.” So decided to stay on. “There was no longer any reason for me to go home,” he said. “I enjoyed the freedom of Milan.” He survived on the kindness of locals, took weekly showers in public bathrooms, and visited the local library regularly.
Bantle’s unusual story went ppublic when he fell down recently and fractured his femur. Hospital workers realised that he had no health insurance, so after questioning him about his identity, they contacted the Swiss consulate. He has now been transferred to a retirement home in Basel, in northwest Switzerland, and is a local celebrity of sorts.
Now that he’s back in Basel, Bantle says he’s quite happy to stay. “I like it here,” he said. “Ten years is enough and here I feel very good now.” I can see why he likes it so much, since his expenses at the Basel home are covered by the municipality, not to mention he gets 100 Swiss francs ($100) pocket money every month. What’s not to like?