By Nicole Arriaga in Rome—
Ask almost any Italian and they’ll tell you there are only two things in life that they cannot do without: coffee and calcio (soccer). Right up there with coffee, calcio in Italy is definitely much more than a game. It’s a passion.
Italians eat, breathe and live soccer. There are radio and TV shows dedicated to it. There are even newspapers concerned solely with the subject. Not to mention, it’s the favorite topic for coffee talk at the local bar, where at the crack of dawn Italians engage in heated discussions about last night’s game.
Contrary to many sports in other countries, soccer season in Italy lasts a whopping 10 months each year. That’s a whole lot of calcio! Romans are especially passionate about soccer. In fact, Rome is host to not one, but two teams: A.S. Roma and S.S. Lazio.
A.S. Roma, or simply “La Roma,” was founded in 1927. The team is also known as “i giallorossi,”’ named after its official colors (yellow and red). Its mascot is also the official symbol of Rome, the Lupa Capitolina, a she-wolf who nursed the founders of Rome Romulus and Remus back to life. The team’s club anthem and motto is “Roma, Roma, Roma” and “Grazie Roma” written by Roman singer Antonello Venditti. The giallorossi’s beloved team captain is the famous Francesco Totti, who (according to fans) is the next best things since slice bread.
Roma fans refer to themselves as “romanisti” or “i giallorossi.” While la Roma is traditionally one of the top teams in the Serie A league, the giallorossi are having a tough start to the season this year. Though it has one of the largest followings in Italy (after Juventus, Inter, AC Milan and Napoli), its current ranking is near the bottom.
Associazione Sportiva Roma (A.S. Roma)
Colors: Yellow and red
Emblem: She-wolf (the Capitoline wolf)
Coach: Claudio Ranieri
Rome’s other team, S.S. Lazio was founded in 1900. Its team colors are sky blue and white and its mascot is an eagle. While Rome technically has more fans within the city, “la Lazio,” as the team is also nicknamed, has more supporters in towns within the Lazio region (where Rome is also located). Lazio fans are referred to as “laziali” or “i biancocelesti.” Its captain is Tommaso Rocchi. Currently (October 2010), the team is ranked first in the Italian Serie A league.
Societa Sportiva Lazio (S.S. Lazio)
Colors: Sky blue and white
Coach: Edoardo Reja
The giallorossi share the Stadio Olimpico (the olympic stadium) with their arch rivals, the S.S. Lazio team. The Stadio Olimpico can hold up to 72,000 fans and is the second-largest stadium in Italy after Milan’s San Siro Stadium.
The hardcore Roma fans sit in the “Curva Sud,” whereas the die-hard Lazio fans sit in the “Curva Nord” whenever their team plays (during which things can get very rowdy). When both teams play each other at the Olimpico it’s called the “derby,” which is probably the most heated and anticipated game in Italy.
Where to buy tickets?
Tickets for both teams can be purchased from one of their official merchandising stores. Because of recent changes to safety laws at the stadium, each person must show their passport or ID when buying a ticket. Each ticket is printed individually with the purchaser’s name on it. Ticket prices vary, depending on the game, but usually run from €14-€100 each. (Interestingly, sometimes tickets for women are sold at a reduced rate.)
A.S. Roma merchandise stores:
Piazza Colonna, 360 (Prati/Vatican area)
Via Cola di Rienzo, 136/A (Centro Storico)
S.S. Lazio merchandise stores:
LAZIO STYLE 1900 ROMA
Via Guglielmo Calderini 66/C (Flaminio area)
Alternatively, tickets for S.S. Lazio can be purchased from any Lottomatica distributor, which are typically found in Tabacco (tabacchi) shops around Rome. Two locations are: Via M. Colonna, 37 (Prati/Vatican Area), and Via della Scrofa, 110 (Centro Storico).