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I grandi vecchi stadi d’Italia



To celebrate Football Weekends 50th edition next month, Jim the editor asked me to nominate three of my favourite “old school” stadiums there. Having been at 40 Italian grounds I am undoubtedly qualified to make such a call, and it was quite entertaining coming up with my choices, which I guess true to form are quite eclectic! This is a relatively short piece as it will be incorporated into a much larger Pan European article in the November edition of the magazine, but ahead of publication, here are my picks

Click to view slideshow.

Largely the Italian stadiums are either modern, similar in style or full of far too much scaffolding. What some of the grounds lack in outstanding quirky style, they make up with awe inspiring views. Carrarese’s stadium has incredible views of the nearby mountains that appear to be permanently covered in snow but they are in fact merely scarred slopes from the marble mining that Carrara is famed, but spectacularly scarred! In an arch around the eastern flank of Tuscany, Pistoiese, Prato and Arezzo’s stadiums all afford wonderful views too, and slightly further south in the region Siena’s stadium on the edge of the historical centre is eye catching, but has that scaffolding thing in spades, just like the unique location in Venezia, and the picturesque lakeside ground in Como.

There are some real gems around Italy, Bologna and Fiorentina’s external facades are iconic, but if we are looking for more distinctly old school interiors we have to look in the lower leagues. 

Numero UNO

In the southern reaches of Liguria the coastal town of La Spezia houses one of the great old stadiums of Italy. The local club, Spezia are in Serie B and have been playing at the 10,336 capacity Alberto Picci Stadio since 1919. The old stand is a throwback to another era, and if they have listed building protection in Italy, I hope that it will be preserved forever. The home curva is a thing of beauty too, steeply rising like the mountains behind the stadium.

Numero DUE

In Veneto the home of Lanerossi Vicenza Virtus, the Romeo Menti has been home to the various guises of the club since 1935 when it was opened as the Stadio Communale. The current capacity is 12,000, and while the ground has been buffed up over the years, the seated terraces are close to the action, unlike many of the ellipse style stadia in Italy where “curva” are well named but are too far from the action. The mainstand runs the length of the pitch and could have been moved lock, stock and barrel from the old Victoria Ground in Stoke, where doubtlessly the similarity of kit brought them immediately to mind!

Numero TRE

The biggest and my favourite of my trio of “classic” stadio is significantly far down the Adriatic coast in the town of San Benedetto Del Tronto. The Stadio Riviera Delle Palme is home to Sambenedettese, perhaps the least well known of the three clubs, and yet with a 22,000 capacity, Vicenza and Spezia’s capacity could fit into this one! The ground is relatively modern, inaugurated only in 1985 but old enough to have a retro feel. Samb have never reached Serie A, and rarely appeared in Serie B but they are always perceived as a sleeping giant, and the size of the stadium, as well as the loyalty of their fans add to that myth, but they continue to languish in the third tier. The stadium has two circular corner walkways like the San Siro to the upper tier of the seated terraces that go round three sides, complimented by a vast main stand where from the very top  you can look out to sea as the game progresses.   

The stadiums in Messina, Catanzaro and the buffed up SPAL stadium in Ferrara might have made the cut, as would have the now old pearls of Stadio Dorico in Ancona and Stadio Appiani in Padova, but these are no longer in use by the top teams to be considered. Does anyone have any other stadio they’d have included?

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    • Seems to me going by these comments that nothing around the culture at the club will change until SG goes. Dismissive of the fans and completely unable to take any criticism or responsibility. Puts it on the minority of 'noisy people' Totally dismissive of the Supporters Trust without naming them. "They're meeting in the Innes Bar, and hopefully everyone vents their spleen if they want to do that. Hopefully it's constructive, and then I would hope they're all coming to the game afterwards." So basically go have your little whine and a moan to yourselves, then shut up and get to the game and spend your money. When will folk realise that the club have absolutely zero interest in what the fans think or what their concerns are. Doesn’t matter if that's through the Trust or any other group or individual. He gets paid regardless. They are the 'noisy minority' and 'clickbait proponents' he keeps telling himself that and absolutely nothing about the willfully ignorant culture at the club will change until the CEO goes. It's just about the crap results on the park the CEO says and while they are obviously having a huge negative impact it's way more than that. It's the first time in my life as an ICT supporter where I've felt the club just don't give a toss.   
    • I'll just leave this here and let people reflect on an individual basis  
    • It really says a lot though DD, and maybe we need other or new board directors and the fans to think a bit more deeper than we previously did about whether this individual’s performance and stewardship as CEO to date deserves to continue to use the position, powers and authority which will affect the next 2 to 3 seasons, particularly on the park. Sometimes you don’t see the slow continued decline (as we’re all wrapped up in it) of our club, until a main event like relegation occurs, but there is no doubt in my mind we haven’t stopped, never mind reversed, the decline under SG. Does the club really deserve any better? bc
    • If we can get a manager/coach/wizard to get a tune from this squad and pull us out if the hole we are in, then no. Removing the hierarchy - board/ceo/sporting director - is indeed a topic/post/challenge for another day. If we don't sort the problem on the park then relegation and part time status will accelerate the reform process anyway. I think some will actually welcome that scenario. 
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