There's a fairly long list of things that Italians take seriously - strong coffee, good food, and even better wine among them - but one that should never be missed from the list is football. Having won the World Cup four times, and boasting some of the best teams in Europe, the sport is practically a religion. With that in mind, no visit to Italy would be complete without attending a match - and where could be better than one of the world's most famous sporting amphitheatres, Rome's Stadio Olimpico?
The modern day equivalent of the Colosseum, the Stadio Olimpico is today home to both AS Roma and their arch rivals, Lazio. During the football season, the atmosphere within the stadium is famously electric, with up to 70,000 fans packing into the stands to sing, chant and jeer. Not content with only one sport, it also plays host to athletics competitions, serves as the base for Italian international rugby, and holds live gigs throughout the year.
The Stadio Olimpico forms part of the Foro Italico sports complex, originally named the Foro Mussolini after the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who commissioned its construction. By all accounts, the complex was designed as much as anything to show the power of the regime - an obelisk reading "MVSSOLINI DVX" (“Mussolini, the Leader”) sitting in the middle of the complex is testament to this.
Having previously hosted the 1960 Olympics, the 1990 FIFA World Cup and the 2009 Champions League Final, and with the stadium set to host the Euro 2020 competition, the site has been updated at various points over the years. Today, it's fair to say that it's probably in need of a little more updating, but it still ranks up there as one of the most exciting stadiums in Europe to catch a match in.
Unfortunately, the stadium doesn't offer tours at present, so in order to take it all in you'll just have to go and see a match, news which will obviously be devastating to all football fans out there. Here's the need to know:
Viale dei Gladiatori
Italy 00135 Roma