An American Sports Fan’s Guide to Rome

The US and Italy are each a paradise for sports lovers—but for very different reasons. In the US, national sporting favorites include American football, baseball, and basketball. While basketball is increasingly popular throughout Europe, Italians are focused mostly on football (soccer), volleyball, Formula One racing, and rugby.

As such, sports lovers heading to Rome may feel confused when trying to decide on which sports to investigate, and how to go about purchasing tickets for the relevant events. Some may try to stick close to home, opting for Italian leagues in sports they recognize from back home, such as the Italian Baseball League.

Worldwide, the US and Canada’s MLB is the most-attended league in the world, with almost 70 million fans attending games in 2018 alone. It’s also one of the most bet on sports in the US, with MLB betting odds available year-round. Still, despite baseball’s popularity in North America, the only other major tournaments for the sport internationally reside in Japan and Korea.

As such, traveling sports fans are better off doing as the romans do, with Italy playing host to some of the finest sporting championships and events in the world.

Without further a-do, let’s take a tour of Rome’s best sporting events.

Serie A at Stadio Olimpico

SS Lazio & AS Roma

Italy’s domestic football league is called Serie A; there are two Roman sides that compete in Serie A, AS Roma and SS Lazio. As strong teams that share a city, the sides have one of the deepest rivalries in football history.

It’s easy to catch season games at Stadio Olimpico for either side. Serie A runs from autumn until spring with a total of 38 matches, which means catching a live game isn’t difficult during these months.

Looking to learn even more about Stadio Olimpico and its two home teams? There are guided tours available that shed light on the history of football in Italy and, more specifically, in Rome. Aren’t sure which team to support? During the past few years, the teams have been on a near-equal footing in the domestic league. Catching a match from either side will be a rewarding cultural experience.

SuperLega at PalaBianchini, Latina

Top Volley Latina

Italy’s domestic volleyball league is called SuperLega, and it has been active in the country in various forms since 1946. The SuperLega league sees thirteen teams from around the country compete during the same time period as Serie A, autumn to spring. 

Unfortunately for travelers in Rome, there isn’t a local team to cheer on—but a short trip to Latina in Lazio, west of Rome, is a great way to dive further into Italian culture. In Latina, Top Volley Cisterna has become the preferred club for Roman fans, as more local teams have consistently failed to place in the SuperLega.

Italian Grand Prix at Monza

Scuderia Ferrari

Rome has yet to host an official F1 Grand Prix, so visitors will have to settle for joining the remote Ferrari tifosi, or fan group. Still, catching the Italian Grand Prix from a local Roman establishment will be just as exciting for most sports fans.

Throughout Formula One history, multiple dynastic teams have been based in Italy: there’s Maserati from Modena, as well as Lanza, of Turin. However, none have been quite as prolific as Ferrari, based in Maranello.

Today, the Italian Grand Prix is held in Monza, which is in Northern Italy about a six-hour drive from Rome. The emphasis here isn’t on catching the Italian Grand Prix in person, as ticket priced are astronomical, and searching for a place to watch beyond the fences is best left to locals.

Fortunately, travelers in-the-know  have recommended these locations in Rome to catch a live Grand Prix (whether in Monza or outside Italy): La Botticella of Poggi Giovanni (near Piazza Navona), The Druid’s Den (near the Basilica de Santa Maria Maggiore), and Baccanale Trastevere (near Santa Maria di Trastevere).

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