Italian football stadiums
Explore the history & architecture of the ten best football grounds in Italy.
Football is not just a sport in Italy: it is a way of life. This devotion to calcio (as football or soccer is called by Italians) is reflected in their stadiums.
Italy has some of the largest and most historic stadiums in the world. We have in our list the most beautiful stadium you ever imagined, this list will walk you around the top ten football parks in Italy.
10. Stadio Renzo Barbera
Seating capacity: 37,619
Year opened: 1932 (renovated in 1989)
Club host: U.S. Città di Palermo
Stadio Renzo Barbera is a 37,619-capacity stadium that houses U.S. Citta di Palermo. It was originally named Stadio Littorio and was renamed twice before it got its present name, in honor of a former USC Palermo president. However, the stadium is still more popularly known as La Favorita, the name it held from 1945-2002.
Stadio Renzo Barbera used to have running tracks but they were removed to make room for more seats. In 2010, all seats were installed with backrests to comply with UEFA’s requirement for the hosting of the Europa League. Two large screens were also placed at the corners.
Stadio La Favorita has been home to U.S.C. Palermo since its construction in 1932. The first game it held saw an enormous win by U.S.C. Palermo over Atalanta, 5-1. Like most Italian stadium, La Favorita is owned by the city. But U.S.C. Palermo administrators are planning to create their own stadiums in the future.
9. Stadio Artemio Franchi
Seating capacity: 47,290
Architect: Pier Luigi Nervi
Year opened: 1931 (renovated in 1990)
Club host: Fiorentina
Stadio Artemio Franchi is a 47,290 all-seater stadium, home of the Italian football club ACF Fiorentina. Originally named Comunale (“City”), it was renamed in 1991 in honor of a former Italian football federation president.
Artemio Franchi stadium was built in 1931 by the architect Pier Luigi Nervi. It was at that time a true avant-garde structure, remarkable for the 230-foot tower that rises opposite the Grandstand.
On the occasion of the World Cup Italy ‘90 Artemio Franchi Stadium has been expanded and renovated. The seats placed closer to the field, and the removing of athletics tracks made Artemio Franchi stadium a ground more endeared to fans.
8. Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi
Seating capacity: 39,211
Year opened: 1963 (renovated in 1990)
Club host: Chievo Verona & Hellas Verona
Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi, named after a 19th Century Veronese politician, is a classic oval stadium with a capacity of almost 40, 000 spectators. Two Italian soccer teams play in this ground their home games, Hellas Verona and Chievo Verona.
Built in 1963, Bentegodi, as many other Italian stadiums, was restructured for the 1990 World Cup. For this occasion the roof was extended to cover all the seats and improve the comfort of spectators.
The Bentegodi stadium hosted the World Cup games of group E and the eighth-final between Spain and Yugoslavia.
7. Stadio San Paolo
Seating capacity: 60,240
Architect: Carlo Cocchia, Luigi Corradi
Year opened: 1959 (renovated in 1989)
Club host: Napoli
Stadio San Paolo is the third largest stadium of Italy in term of capacity, behind San Siro and Stadio Olimpico of Rome. Located in Naples, it is the home of the famous Italian club SSC Napoli.
Upon its completion in 1959, San Paolo was capable of holding 87,000 spectators and stood like a massive architectural beauty built completely of stone. But that beauty had to be sacrificed for comfort: the construction of the roof in 1990 took away much of its classical appeal and the capacity was greatly reduced.
The city of Naples once voted for the renaming of San Paolo to Stadio Maradona to honor the legendary Argentinean player for bringing Napoli to two Serie A titles (1987 & 1990). But an Italian law repelled the action: a public building cannot be named after a person if he has not been dead yet for at least ten years.
6. Stadio Renato Dall’Ara
Seating capacity: 39,444
Year opened: 1927
Club host: Bologna FC
Stadio Renato Dall’Ara is a 39,444 all-seater stadium and home to the Serie A club Bologna F.C. 1909. It was opened in 1927 as Stadio Littoriale and was renamed in 1983 to honor Renato Dall’Ara, F.C. Bologona’s president for 30 years.
Stadio Dall’Ara was first built with a capacity of 50,000 but renovations to make it an all-seater reduced it to 39,000. One of the stadium’s most prominent features is a tower opposite the grandstand, which is called the Tower of Marathon, symbol of the fascist party that ruled Italy in the 1920s and 1930s.
It is in the Dall’Ara Stadium that Sammarinese footballer Davide Gualtieri scored the fastest goal in a World Cup qualifying match, 8.3 seconds against England in 1993. It is the fastest World Cup-related goal ever.
5. Stadio Luigi Ferraris
Seating capacity: 36,536
Year opened: 1911
Club host: Genoa & Sampdoria
Stadio Luigi Ferraris is an all-seater professional football stadium that houses Sampdoria and Genoa CFC, the most successful club in the early history of Italian football. Built in 1911, this stadium is the oldest in the whole of Italy. It received its current name in 1933 in honor of a legendary Genoa CFC captain, Luigi Ferraris.
Stadio Ferraris initially had bleachers for its seats and was capable of holding only 20,000 people. In 1987, the stadium was demolished to make way for a grander stadium for the 1990 World Cup. The work took more than two years and the result was a massive stadium with seats placed closely to the pitch—making it more well-loved to fans.
Prior to the World Cup in 1990, Stadio Luigi Ferraris has already been host to several historic matches. One of them was the 1934 World Cup match between Brazil and Spain. That match created one of the greatest football controversies when a Spanish defender caught the ball with his hands to prevent the Brazilians from scoring. The referee did not penalize the Spaniards for that violation.
4. Stadio Comunale Friuli
Seating capacity: 41,652
Architects: Giuliano Parmegiani & Lorenzo Giacomuzzi Moore
Year opened: 1976
Club host: Udinese Calcio
Stadio Friuli is an all-seater football stadium with a capacity of 41,652. It is home to Udinese Calcio and was named after the region where the city of Udine is located.
It was designed by Giulian Parmegiani and Lorenzo Giacomuzzi Moore as replacement to Stadio Moretti, which was home to Udinese when it almost won the Scudetto in 1955. Paregiani and Moore took inspiration from the amphitheaters of Ancient Rome for Fruili’s structure.
Stadio Friuli is where the legendary brazilian footballer Zico played his final match for Flamengo. In contrast, it is in this stadium that Paolo Maldini, one of the greatest football defenders ever, played his first professional match.
3. Stadio San Nicola
Seating capacity: 58,270
Architects: Renzo Piano
Year opened: 1990
Club host: A.S. Bari
Stadio San Nicola is all-seater stadium that can accomodate a maximum of 58,270 spectators. It is the home of Serie A club A.S. Bari and was named after the city’s patron saint.
Work began in 1987 following design by Italian architect Renzo Piano and was finished in 1990 in time for the World Cup. San Nicola is one of the most uniquely-structured stadiums in the world, with its appearance resembling a flower about to reach full bloom.
Stadio San Nicola witnessed the fastest sending off in Italian football history during the 2010 World Cup qualifying match between Italy and Ireland, when striker Giampaolo Pazzini got a red card just two minutes after kickoff.
2. Stadio Olimpico Roma
Seating capacity: 72,700
Architects: Enrico del Debbio (1928), Cesar Valle (1957)
Year opened: 1930
Club host: A.S. Roma & S.S. Lazio
Stadio Olimpico is the second biggest stadium in Italy with a capacity of 72,700 and is home to fierce rivals A.S. Roma and S.S. Lazio. It was originally named as the Stadium of Cypress and received its present name in 1960.
First designed by Eurico del Debbio, it was restructured by Cesar Valle in 1957 and made it capable of accommodating up to 100.000 spectators. In 1989, it was redesigned to become an all-seater stadium and the capacity was downsized to 72,700.
Stadio Olimpico becomes exceptionally alive during matches between city rivals A.S. Roma and S.S. Lazio. It is the fiercest football club rivalry in Italy and is nicknamed Derby della Capitale (Derby of the capital).
1. Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (Stadio San Siro)
Seating capacity: 80,100
Year opened: 1926 (renovated in 1956 & 1989)
Club host: A.C. Milan & Inter Milano
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza is an all-seater stadium capable of accommodating 80,100 spectators. Originally named Stadio San Siro after its location, it was renamed Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in honor of a legendary footballer who played for both Internazionale and Milan.
Stadio Meazza is originally capable of holding only 35,000 spectators but the additions of tiers have more than doubled its initial capacity. Aside from its size, the stadium is distinguishable for the 11 cylindrical towers that prop it. Inside these towers are helical stairs which lead up to the highest tier of the stadium.
The stadium is referred to by Inter fans in its current name because Giuseppe Meazza played mostly for Inter. On the other hand, Milan fans (and most people) continue to refer to it by its old name of San Siro.
Note: The famed Stadio delle Alpi is not included in this list because it was demolished in 2006, due to poor design. On its site will open a new stadium, which is set to be completed in 2011. It will exclusively host Juventus FC and is tentatively named Juventus Arena.