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Official Review by Stephan Hoogerwaard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Stadio Atleti Azzurri d' Italia is located in the Northern Italian city of Bergamo at the Viale Giulio Cesare. This elliptical stadium is the home of Serie A team Atalanta Bergamo, and since 2003 also the home of Serie C team UC Albinoleffe. The Stadio Atleti Azzurri d' Italia was built in 1928 and until 1945 it held the name ‘Stadio Mario Brumana.’
The stadium originally had a capacity of 12,000 seats and was opened in two separate ceremonies. The first (and unofficial) opening took place on November 1, 1928 with a match between Atalanta Bergamo and Triestina. The second (and official) opening took place on December 23, 1928 in the presence of many authorities.
At that time the complex was situated on an area of 35,000 square meters and included the playing field for football of 120 x70 meters (with just two stands on the long side of the pitch, only the west stand was covered), surrounded by a track for athletics, swimming pools, and tennis courts.
Over the years the stadium has undergone numerous renovations. First, two curves (in Italian: curvas) were added along with a roof on the East stand. In 1960, there was a cycling track built inside in the stadium to hold cycling events. The most famous annual cycling match was for the Trofeo Baracchi. This phase ended in 1983.
Of great importance for the current structure of the stadium were the works carried out during the summer of 1984. This year Atalanta Bergamo returned to the Serie A. The athletic track was demolished and metal temporary stands were added. These stands increased the capacity, which reached the historical record on September 16, 1984 when more than 43,000 spectators passed through the gates of the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d' Italia.
Nowadays many people think that the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d' Italia is too old and not Serie A worthy anymore. When you compare the Atalanta Bergamo stadium with the World Cup 1990 grounds of, for instance AC Milan or Genoa CFC, it’s absolutely outdated, but nevertheless it still holds its charm.
After the latest renovations, the capacity of the stadium has been brought back to 24,726 seats. I’m quite sure that within 10 years Atalanta Bergamo will have a new stadium to give their supporters all the comfort they need and to meet the demand for business units and business seats. One of the last traditional elliptical Serie A grounds is unfortunately about to disappear, making this a great spot for groundhoppers in the coming years.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
At the concession counters there is a very poor choice of food and drinks. The counters are too small and too understaffed to serve many people during the half time break.
Soft drinks like Coca-Cola and 7Up are served in plastic cups (25cl) and cost € 1.50. Instant coffee also costs € 1.50, and a small espresso is served for € 1.00. Candy bars, chips, and home prepared sandwiches are also offered. Though the variety is lacking, the prices are more than reasonable.
The atmosphere is what one would expect in a stadium that is almost 100 years old. The facilities inside the ground are poor, many seats are uncovered and there are a lot of high fences separating the different blocks of the stadium.
Whilst empty you can see that only the main stand has decent seats. Those seats are in the club colours of black and blue. Behind both goals there is a lot of space before the curves actually begin. This is of course due to the athletic track which was surrounding the pitch before the redevelopment in the mid 1980's. The old façade of the stadium helps to give the ground its charm.
The neighbourhood around the stadium is not really spectacular. The stadium is located in a suburb of the city of Bergamo. In this area there are no pubs. There is one Japanse restaurant about a five minute walk from the ground (it is called 'Ristorante Giapponese Suzuran Di Chen Zhebing' at the Via Tremana 20). For a good drink or a different taste of food you need to go to the old town.
Most of the Atalanta Bergamo fans which visit a match of their team are dressed in the black and blue club colours. The nickname of the team is the 'Nerazzurri,' which means 'black and blues.' Most of the most fanatic supporters (the Ultras) are housed in the Curva Pisani. They bring flags, banners and sometimes also fireworks and smoke bombs to the matches. The Atalanta Ultras give their team good support for almost the whole 90 minutes.
The Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia is located in the northwest of the city of Bergamo. It is situated just over two kilometres from Bergamo's old town and just over two kilometres from Bergamo's railway station (Stazione Bergamo). At the train station you will find frequent train services to Verona, Brescia, and Milan. The stadium is easily accessible by car as well.
Atalanta only sells out their stadium two or three times each season so it possible to buy your tickets at a stall at the Via Giulio Cesare on the day of the match. This ticket office is located close to the entrance of the East stand just across the road. The ticket prices start from €14.00 for a seat at one of the 'curvas.' A covered seat at the long side of the pitch will cost you between €20.00 and €34.00.
Please note: Bring your ID when buying tickets as this is mandatory in Italy!
The old façade of the stadium is really magnificent, and there aren't many left like those in Italy. The statues in the façade show the 'Atleti d'Azzurri.' This feature gives an extra to the stadium experience.
Another extra is the location of the ground. When the weather is bright you can see parts of the Dolomite mountains from the stands.
If you like old grounds, then Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia is certainly worth a visit. If you like the more modern stadiums then go to Milan, just 70 kilometres away from Bergamo.
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