Have you ever considered traveling to Italy for soccer or “calcio.” Let’s take a dive into the passionate world of Italian football with this guide!

“In Italy they live for football, it’s a religion.”

Such were the words of German soccer player Sami Khedira, who now plays for the Italian soccer team Juventus. And that’s one thing most tourists should know when traveling to Italy. With the new season of Serie A—the top soccer league in the country—starting just last week, it’s the perfect time to be immersed in the country’s biggest pastime.

A Quick Overview

First things first: if the US calls it soccer, and the British call it football, in Italy they call it calcio. This was due to the fact that as early as the 16th century, a variation of soccer was played in Florence—Calcio Fiorentino. This variation proved to be so popular that prominent Florentines, such as the Medici Family, and Popes such as Clement VII and Leo XI, played the game.

A game of Calcio Fiorentino played in 1688.

A game of Calcio Fiorentino played in 1688. From Wikipedia Commons.

It was only in the late 1800s that the modern version of soccer reached Italian shores from England. Some sources point to Genoa, with the establishment of the Genoa Cricket and Football Club in 1893. Others point to Turin, with the Torino Football and Cricket Club in 1887.

The Genoan club was founded by James Richardson Spensley for English expatriates in the area. Meanwhile, the Turin club was founded by Edoardo Bosio, an Italian textile merchant who encountered the game during his stay in England.

Due to the sport’s increasing popularity, the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) or the Italian Football Federation was formed. Eventually, soccer leagues were formed; this marked the start of professional football in Italy.

Derby della Mole - Juventus vs. Torino, 1965-66 season

Derby della Mole – Juventus vs. Torino, 1965-66 season. From Wikipedia Commons.

Today, the top league is called Serie A, followed by the second-tier Serie B. Other competitions that clubs participate in include the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) and the Supercoppa Italia, where winners of the Coppa Italia and the Serie A champions vie for the prize.

Top Teams to Follow

Of course, watching Italian football won’t be that fun when you don’t have a team to support. Here are the top teams in Serie A you may be interested in following:

Juventus

Epic athleticism, @emil_audero! #JStadium #FinoAllaFine #ForzaJuve #JuveToday #InstaJuve

A photo posted by Juventus Football Club (@juventus) on

  Based in Turin, the club colloquially known as Juve is regarded as the team to beat in the Serie A 2016-17 season. After all, it is the most successful club in Italian football; it has won 5 straight scudettos (league championships) starting in the 2011-12 season. For the 2016-17 season, Juve is looking forward to defend its title, with new signings such as Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic. This was despite the departure of Paul Pogba, who was named as the top assist provider alongside Pjanic in the previous season.

Inter Milan (Football Club Internazionale Milano)

 

Commonly referred to as just Inter, it is one of the few soccer teams in Italy that has continuously played in the top tier of the league system since it started. It is also one of the most successful, having won five successive scudetto from 2006 to 2010. While its performance in recent years has dipped, Inter is still considered one of the top teams in the world. Coming in at fourth in the 2015-16 season of the Serie A, the Nerazzurri are expected to be back in fighting form this season, with new manager Frank de Boer at the helm. New signing Antonio Candreva, coming in from Lazio, is also a player to watch.

AC Milan (Associazione Calcio Milan)

 

 

That said, Inter’s cross-town rivals are no slouches. AC Milan—often just called Milan—is just as successful as Inter on the domestic front. Internationally, they are the third most successful club in the world, with 18 international titles to their name. These include seven Champions League trophies. While the past Serie A season saw them place seventh, the Rossoneri are hoping to bounce back, with new signings Jose Sosa and Gianluca Lapadula.

S.S. Lazio (Società Sportiva Lazio)

#BMGLazio 0-0 FT.

A photo posted by S.S. Lazio (@official_sslazio) on

 

Based in Rome is another mainstay of the Serie A—S.S. Lazio, or the Biancazzurri. Coming in at eight in the 2015-16 Serie A season, the club is seeking to improve its performance this season. Hence, it just beefed up its player base, with Jordan Lukaku and Moritz Leitner coming in.

Interestingly, Lazio is not all about football. It is a sports club participating in a total of 40 disciplines, the most of any club worldwide. This is the reason behind its club colors of white and sky blue. These were chosen as a tribute to the national emblem of Greece, where the Olympics originated; like the Olympics, Lazio has players in various sports.

A.S. Roma (Associazione Sportiva Roma)

 

Lazio’s inter-city rivals, Roma, finished the 2015-16 season better with a third place finish. That’s not surprising considering the club’s track record of having played all seasons—except for one—at the top tier for the past 89 years. With only one loss under Luciano Spalletti starting in January, Roma is said to give champions Juve a tough time this season. This is especially since their legendary player, Francesco Totti, enters his 25th season with the club—a season that some say will be his last.

S.S.C. Napoli (Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli)

La gallery di #NapoliMonaco 5-0! Qui: goo.gl/o4zsKJ #ForzaNapoliSempre

A photo posted by SSC Napoli (@officialsscnapoli) on

 

The runners-up of the 2015-16 Serie A season is also one of the most illustrious Italian clubs in the league. The adopted home of the legendary Diego Maradona, Napoli has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.

With beloved striker Gonzalo Higuain leaving for champions Juve this season, Napoli is out to exact revenge. New signings for the Partenopei include Arkadiusz Milik and Piotr Zieliński.

Getting Tickets

San Siro Stadium, Milan, Italy

The San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy

After learning about some of Italy’s most popular teams, it’s time to choose one of their games to watch live. Even for a passionate fan, buying tickets to an Italian soccer game may seem complicated. But with the help of the Internet, it’s now easy to get them, as tickets can now be bought online. Larger clubs such as Inter or Milan sell tickets on their website, while other clubs sell theirs on third-party sites such as Viagogo or Listicket.

Alternatively, you can go to the club’s office or store to purchase tickets. Just make sure to buy tickets in advance, as tickets quickly get sold out. Simply arriving at the stadium hours before the game won’t guarantee that tickets are still available. You may even get victimized by touts. And when buying a ticket, make sure to have your passport with you; they will need to print your name on the ticket as a security precaution.

If all else fails and you weren’t able to secure a ticket, don’t worry. Just look for a neighborhood bar or restaurant on a Sunday night—you’ll be sure to find locals watching the game on TV, too. Join the fun that way instead.

With these tips, we hope that you consider watching football when traveling to Italy! If you need any assistance, feel free to contact us.