Along with some pals I recently went to a few games in Italy (Roma v Juventus & Napoli v Sampdoria).
Here is a quick synopsis…..
Part I – Juve at the Stadio Olimpico
After a night out in Naples sampling the ridiculously cheap ales of Naples Centro Storico, an early morning train to Rome afforded the opportunity to get some sleep prior to a full day of tourist activity which preceded an evening trip to the Stadio Olimpico for Roma’s tussle with league leaders Juventus.
The capital’s two sides Roma and Lazio have only won the Scudetto five times between them but the passion of their fans and the atmosphere in the Olimpico belies such limited history.
Tickets for the game had been sourced online prior to the trip courtesy of a friendly chap called Alberto from AS Roma who kindly put 4 tickets aside for the bargain price of 20 euro’s each. The tickets ‘seated’ us in the Curva Nord in the next block to the Juve fans. Sitting down was not an option.
In a cagey encounter a moment of brilliance from the supremely ace Francesco Totti edged out the Old Lady, although to be fair most of the action was happening on the terraces in and around us.
A flurry of flares and missiles from the Juve end had pushed most of our block in the opposite direction following Totti’s goal. The ensuing carnage led to some Juventus fans marauding into the Curva looking for a ‘sit down’ with some or Roma’s top cats. This led to a rapid back pedal from the section we were stood in.
Standing Room Only
It’s always best to be ‘on your toes’ in such situations, otherwise you run the risk of losing your footing , hitting the deck and ripping your favourite jeans.
Part II: SSC Napoli – The pride of the Mezzogiorno
Naples was a different shaped potato altogether; the Neapolitan’s are a warm bunch and their city is ridiculously cheap and equally edgy. We stayed in the Garibaldi area nearby the train station which was quite rough and ready but the hotel was clean and incredibly cheap (12e per person per night)
Amidst a four-day pizza binge, the best being ye olde worldy ‘budget eats’ Di Matteo and Maradona’s old haunt Di Michele (where you can get their speciality 14 inch Margarita washed down with a peroni for a bargain 5 Euros)…. It’s basically the opposite of a Kerry Katona Iceland special.
Di Michele only serves two pizza’s (Margarita and Marinara) and this was useful for us given that our combined communication skills were akin to Paulie in the Commendatori episode of the Soprano’s.
Going to the San Paulo was a dream I’d had since I was 7 and it didn’t disappoint. The stadium is incredibly atmospheric with its decaying third tier and ramshackle outskirts indicative of a ground that could tell more than a tale or two.
The San Paulo has been the club’s home during Napoli’s heady days as Italy’s top dogs which included the supposedly thrown title of 1988, right through to the apocalypse of demotion and Serie C in 2005; this club is a living, breathing soap opera even by the overly dramatic standards of Italian football.
Sadly, unlike the Olimpico the previous evening drinking lager was not permitted in the ground, however you could pick up one of these ruthless espresso / sambuca concoctions for a recession busting 2 euro a shot. It had a significantly more lethal kick than a warm pint of Chang.
The online ticketing for Napoli is basically a no-go - supposedly due to the influence of the Camorra – but it was easy to source them down the ground at the back of the Distinti. Our tickets cost 15 euro which again is ridiculous.
Napoli were largely disappointing in a 0-0 draw with their key man Hamsik particularly poor. His evening got worse after the game when he was mugged at gun point outside the stadium for his favourite watch. Ex-toffee Shkodran Mustafi got a comedy run out for the last four minutes for the visitor’s Sampdoria who brought around 50 brave fans with them.
If you’re thinking of a football weekend trip I’d definitely recommend a Roma/Napoli double header. Flight, hotels, trains and match tickets cost a modest £140 which is based on 4 people sharing a room. If you base yourself in Naples you can also eat and drink like a king on a limited budget.