Going to see a soccer game in Italy is an exciting way to get to know the country and its culture. The roar of the crowd. The gorgeous green pitch. The chanting and singing — tutto in italiano. Attending a football match lets you go beyond the typical itinerary of monuments and museums and just simply hang out with Italians in an authentic, passionate, and familial environment.
Friends and readers who follow me on Twitter and Instagram know of my love for watching calcio — the Italian word for soccer/football. While I am more than content to watch Serie A games on tv, the pull of the stadium and its festive atmosphere often gets the better of me.
If you’ve ever attended any kind of sporting match inside a stadium, you know there’s nothing like ascending those stairs up to the point where the arena and the crowd comes into view. Being in the stands when your team scores is also exhilarating, as everyone joins together in a call-and-response with the stadium announcer to call out the goal scorer’s name.
Two hours at a soccer game is over in a flash. But it’s an experience that you’ll carry with you for years to come, especially if you attend a match with a calcio-loving kid.
Over the years, many readers have asked for my advice about seeing a soccer match in Italy. So here is my primer.
Serie A is the premier soccer league in Italy and the one that Italians follow most closely. The league consists of 20 teams and each team plays all of the others twice throughout the season, once at home and once at the other team’s stadium. The season runs through the end of August/beginning of September until the end of May/beginning of June. So that means that there are 10 months out of each year when you can catch a Serie A game.
The #CR7 Factor
As of July 2018, Cristiano Ronaldo — aka CR7 aka the best player in the world — became a player for Juventus, one of the Italy’s most storied and successful teams. Thanks (or no thanks) to Ronaldo, the world has started paying attention to Serie A like never before. So on the one hand, it’s now easier to watch Serie A on tv around the world. On the other, Juventus tickets, even for away games against less marketable teams, are difficult to come by.
Hopefully the Cristiano Ronaldo hype will die down soon. Juventus Stadium in Torino is one of the nicest, newest, and most organized stadiums in all of Italy and I highly recommend seeing a game there if you ever get the chance.
Other Types of Leagues and Matches
Most of the time when people ask me about soccer games in Italy, they are asking me about Serie A games. But there are other types of matches and other leagues to watch.
Lega B, the secondary league, has a season that runs about the same length as that of Serie A. The clubs of Lega B compete for a chance to be promoted to Serie A. The top three teams get promoted each year while the bottom three Serie A teams get relegated to Serie B. Meanwhile, the bottom three teams of Serie B get sent down to Serie C. I’ve flirted with Serie B fandom over the years and love the fact that it feels like back-to-basics, in-the-trenches, no-flash football.
I love Italian football but I can hardly wrap my head around the idea behind the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana, two seemingly superfluous competitions. But hey, it means more soccer for everyone. If you’d like to read about how the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana work, feel free to read this. By the way, the Supercoppa has become so meaningless of a competition that it is sometimes played outside of Italy as a way to market Serie A. Lame.
Finally, there are friendlies – amichevoli in Italian. You can learn more about what friendlies will be played during the year by looking at the website of the Italian team you are interested in seeing. I’ve seen two friendlies in Rome, with AS Roma as the host team. Both matches were festive and, er, friendly, were sparsely attended, and tickets were relatively inexpensive.
How to Get Tickets
The easiest way to get tickets to a soccer game in Italy is to go directly to the website of the team that you want to see and check their game schedule against your travel itinerary.
Visiting Florence? Consider an ACF Fiorentina game. Rome has two options, AS Roma and SS Lazio, if you really want to see a game in Rome and don’t care which team to see. This, by the way, is blasphemy. Same goes for seeing a game in Milan. Pick a side: AC Milan or Inter.
In my experience, it is much easier and often cheaper to purchase tickets directly from the club as they have more control over their tickets.
Likewise, if you want to see your favorite club at an away game, search their website first. The visiting team is given a small amount of tickets in a certain section that allows for all visiting fans to sit together. If you buy tickets from the host team or from a ticket broker, you will likely be sitting in enemy territory — not so great when your team scores against the home team.
One thing that keeps ticket brokers and scalpers at bay is that all soccer game tickets in Italy must be associated with a name and you will have to show your ID at the stadium entrance. Perhaps this is now the standard at most sporting events these days, a way to deter black market sales. But I just know my Serie A experiences.
Other Things to Consider When Seeing a Soccer Game in Italy
Is it safe to see a soccer game in Italy?
I have felt very safe at all games that I have attended and I have felt safe taking my kids, too. But that doesn’t mean that all games and all stadiums are safe. Use your best judgment. For example, don’t wear the shirt of the opposing team if you are sitting on the home side.
Is there food to eat at the stadium?
While Italy is all about food, it is an afterthought at a stadium. There are no BBQ restaurants overlooking centerfield, for example. There are, however, a few stands within the stadiums that sell a few items – hot dogs or chips or crackers. Nothing too fancy. Beer, soda, and water are usually available at these stands and may also be sold by vendors wandering the stadium seats.
Can you buy team gear at the stadium?
It depends. I haven’t had the chance to visit every stadium in Italy, so I don’t know what the gear situation is. I recall on visits to Stadio Olimpico in Rome and Juventus Stadium in Torino that there were small stands inside the stadium that sold official gear (and no shortage of vendors outside these stadiums selling replica shirts, scarves, and other products). Most Italians teams tend to rely on official team stores, usually located in the city center, to sell team merchandise. So, if you want to look like a fan while you’re at the game, it’s best to buy your gear beforehand at a team store or online.
Do you have other questions about soccer in Italy?
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