We pay a visit to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, home of Italy’s oldest club, Genoa CFC, and cross-city rivals Sampdoria.
The sea has shaped the Italian port of Genoa’s destiny. From here, local navigator Christopher Columbus set out to seek Spanish sponsorship to find a sea route to India, and also from where Giuseppe Garibaldi sailed on his famous Expedition of the Thousand, a key moment in the unification of Italy.
It’s also due to Genoa’s prominence as a port that English sailors introduced football in the Italian peninsular, founding Genoa Cricket and Football Club in 1893.
As outlined in the brilliant Calcio – A History of Italian Football, Genoa CFC dominated the early days of Italian football. The team has nine championship titles, but none since 1923-24, one shy of the coveted star awarded for ten scudetti.
Cross-town rivals UC Sampdoria has just won just the single title, in 1990-91 season – led, of course, by Gianluca Vialli.
Both teams play at the 36,536-capacity Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, which has hosted matches in two World Cups; 1934 and it was rebuilt for 1990, where it hosted that famous shoot-out between the Republic of Ireland and Romania. The Genoese Derby della Lanterna (Derby of the Lighthouse) is quite something. [Continues…]
The experience at Stadio Luigi Ferraris
I caught Genoa CFC at home to SS Lazio. The team coach was parked outside my hotel and I could have done with a lift as the ground – also known as Marassi for the area it’s in – is a good 45-minute walk from the labyrinthine old town.
I paid €30 for a second-tier seat on the halfway line and you don’t get much for that price! At 191cms I was pretty uncomfortable, with the person behind’s knees in my back and mine protruding on the empty row in front. [Continues…]
Continuing the English theme, Genoa fans do a solid rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ pre-match and there are plenty of St. George’s crosses around: The Genovese used the flag long before England took it on.
The Luigi Ferraris is untypical for an Italian ground; it’s more like a four-sided British stadium rather than a communal multi-purpose ground. Juventus recognised the value of a close crowd to create a 12th-man atmosphere when it moved from its old Delle Alpi to the tight-knit Juventus Stadium.
In I went to the old Delle Alpi in Turin – where a running track separated the crowd from the pitch – and it was pretty difficult to get an idea of what was going at a low level. I just remember Pavel Nedved’s blonde mullet dashing about the place.
Hence there’s no ‘curva’ as such at the Luigi Ferraris (or corners), but those in the Curva Nord were vocal throughout and I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many flags at any ground anywhere.
Alas, it was one of those ‘pretty good for a goalless draw’ games. Lazio brought a few hundred to bait the locals.
Here are Genoa’s fans’ stirring rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”:
How to get to Stadio Luigi Ferraris
I walked from town – 1.5km north-east of the city centre – but you can take the train to Brignole station.