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Official Review by Stefano Romagnoli, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Virtus Entella is the main football club in Chiavari, a city 40 km from Genoa. It owes its name to the river that runs through the city and flows into the Ligurian Sea.
The club was founded in 1914 and one hundred years later, in the 2014/2015 season, it played for the first time in Serie B, the second level of Italian professional football. Its colors are white and light blue in honor of Argentina, while on the coat of arms there is a little devil with a pitchfork in its hand and a football at its feet. This is thanks to Dario Costa, club president in the 1930s and 1940s, who called his players “blacks devils”.
Since 1933 Entella have played their home games at the Stadio Comunale, which was originally built with the name Stadio Littorio. The venue’s inaugural match was against Albenga on October 29, 1933, which ended 1-1. The facility has been renovated several times during its history. In 1935 the grandstand was built, which still exists today. Between 2011 and 2015 further works have enabled the structure to receive the green light from the authorities to host competitive matches at Lega Pro and subsequently Serie B level.
In 1945 it was renamed Stadio Comunale, abandoning the name that had been given during the fascist period. Giampiero Ventura, the head coach of Italian National Team after Euro 2016, was manager of Virtus Entella for three seasons in the 1980s.
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Like most sports facilities, Stadio Comunale serves a range of food and drink. The bar located in the grandstand sells sandwiches, sweet and savoury snacks and ice cream. Pizza and sandwiches cost €2, while a half liter bottle of water is €1. There is also a cafeteria service.
Additional refreshment points are located in other areas of the stadium. Outside the complex we did not find the classic peddlers of sandwiches and drinks. But not far from the stands was the Bar Entella, the real meeting place for Biancocelesti fans. Furthermore, near the facility, there are a few restaurants and pizzerias.
Stadio Comunale has a rectangular layout reminiscent of British grounds, with four disconnected sectors. These are named Tribuna, which is in turn divided into three sections called Lateral, Central and Authority; Distinti, which is covered in the centre but uncovered at the ends; Gradinata Sud, reserved for local fans and since October 2015 named after former player Ermes Nadalin; and Gradinata Nord, designated for visiting supporters. Four floodlight towers rise near the corner flags.
Between the Gradinata Nord and Distinti sectors there is a big screen on which the names and images of the players of Virtus Entella are run before the match. The grandstand is covered, but the alternately coloured white and light blue seats of the Distinti are only partially covered.
All around the stadium five or six story buildings rise up overlooking the pitch, and during the match some fans follow the action from the terraces or windows.
Chiavari itself is a romantic village by the Ligurian Sea to spend pleasant holidays. Not far away are the Cinque Terre, a World Heritage Site which stretches down the coast from Riomaggiore to Monterosso, and Portofino, the famous holiday resort for VIPs and show business stars. The city of Genoa with its famous aquarium and many other attractions is situated about 40 km away.
The most organized and passionate supporters follow home games of Virtus Entella from Gradinata Sud. White and Light Blue flags and scarves paint this part of the stadium. In Serie B the most heated matches are against Spezia (the two cities are about 50 kilometers apart) and Pro Vercelli, but the historic (and formerly political) rivalry is the one with Sestri Levante which gives life to the so-called Derby del Tigullio.
Reaching the Stadio Comunale Chiavari is quite simple. The city is located on the A12 route linking Genoa to Rome. Coming from the south it is recommended to take the exit for Lavagna, but from the north the Chiavari exit is best. Once off the highway, in both cases, the stadium is about three kilometers' drive away. Chiavari Train Station is only about one and a half kilometers from the stadium, while the nearest airport is Genoa - Sestri.
Both online and from points of sale in Chiavari - given on the website of Virtus Entella - you can buy tickets to attend the team's home games. All methods of purchase, prices and necessary information is available on the website of Virtus Entella, in the Stadio section.
The cost of tickets varies depending on the chosen sector and the day of purchase. Full prices range from €10 to €30, with concessions for OAPs, children between 12 and 17 and partially disabled fans about €5 cheaper. Children between seven and eleven pay just €2, while those under six and severely disabled fans go for free. Paying at the gate is more expensive.
These prices are cheaper than most established Serie B clubs so represent reasonable value given the higher status of most opponents and the attractive venue. The pricing for youngsters is especially positive in attracting the next generation of fans.
The club offers a wide range of merchandise, most readily available online, while the club also accept the 'Fan Card' scheme for more loyal and regular supporters that can be used with any club in the country; they allow quicker queuing and access to fan group meetings, and offer a great way to get a close and personal feel for matches. These are only available to Italian citizens, however.
The surrounding area of Chiavari needs little introduction - the Ligurian coastline is world famous for its historic beauty, and it is highly recommended to save an extra day or two to discover the town's waterfront and neighbouring villages if you visit. The venue itself offers an enticing blend of good quality sport in a compact setting, and is a great experience for seasoned groundhoppers and curious fans alike.
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