Rome football derby
Football is a huge part of Italian culture and there’s no bigger match in Italy than the Rome derby, between Lazio and AS Roma. On the 4th of March, both sets of fans will fill up the 82,000 seats in Rome’s Olympic Stadium for another edition of this classic encounter.
Rome’s main attractions for tourists include all the monuments and landmarks from its ancient period, such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon, and famous squares and fountains where tourists gather to take pictures and to admire them. However, aside from architecture and history, there’s another huge part of Italian culture that not all tourists are aware of: football.
Football, or ‘calcio’ as the Italians call it, is Italy’s most famous sport, unrivalled by the rest, with only motorsport coming a distant second. Rome has two main football teams: SS Lazio and AS Roma. Football in Rome is heavily related to politics, with AS Roma being the more let–wing team and Lazio being the right-wing.
However, AS Roma is the result of a merger of three Rome clubs in 1927 by the secretary of the Italian Fascist Party, Italo Foschi, who under Mussolini’s orders took this decision so that Rome, Italy’s capital, would have a football club that could compete with the powers from the north, Milan, Inter and Juventus. Lazio survived that merger and therefore, Rome had two clubs. It’s not yet clear how the clubs inverted their ideology but the ‘Derby Romano’ or ‘Derby della Capitale’ is a highly political affair.
Rome’s citizens are divided in two, the ‘giallorossi’ (yellow and red) and the ‘biancocelesti’ (white and sky blue). The tension is so big in these matches that tempers have flared more than once in the past. There have been a few important incidents in these derbies, mainly caused by both sets of ultra fans, who are very powerful organizations. In 2004, the was trouble in the stands and the ultra leaders of AS Roma walked onto the pitch to ‘have a chat’ with their captain Francesco Totti about how the team was performing. Shortly after the match was abandoned.
However, tempers have calmed down recently but the passion is still there. Flares, banners and loud singing are classics at the Rome derby and the match itself is a show that no sports fan who is renting Rome apartments should miss. Despite neither of the teams challenging for the ‘Scudetto’, the Italian league title, these matches exemplify perfectly the Italian character and passion. Italians are very fiery people and even the most calm and composed individuals will show their unlimited passion during 90 thrilling minutes. The match outcome is anyone’s guess, as Roma’s new young team will come up against Lazio’s experienced side as they both fight for the last European qualification.
If you’re in romantic Rome during the first week of March, buy your tickets for the match and attend this unique Italian experience that has all the passion and fieriness of the Roman people. Unmissable!
This is a guest post by Aleix Gwilliam. He is a 24 year old from Barcelona who looks English but thinks like a Catalan. He enjoys travelling, especially on old Czech trains, and trying to start conversations in Hungarian with people at Pecs station, even though his Hungarian is as good as his Bulgarian, in other words, not very good. He’s a trier.