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Official Review by Stephan Hoogerwaard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
From 1911 until 1933, the Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris in Genoa, Italy, was known as the Municipal Stadium. The Luigi Ferraris has a capacity of 36,599 seats.
It is the oldest stadium still in use in Italy. The stadium hosts the home matches of both Genoa CFC and UC Sampdoria, and the stadium is owned by the city of Genoa. Besides football matches, it also has hosted Italian national rugby matches and some concerts. The fans of both clubs refer to the stadium as the Marassi Stadium, named after the district where it is located. Unlike other historical Italian grounds, though, this was never the official name of the stadium. The highest attendance at the Luigi Ferraris was recorded on 27 February 1949, when 60,000 fans attended an international match between Italy and Portugal.
The stadium was completely rebuilt for the 1990 World Cup, and the capacity was brought back to its current capacity of 36,599 seats. The stadium was also equipped with two giant screens for this event. Those video screens are still there, but are a bit outdated. During the World Cup, Stadio Luigi Ferraris hosted three Group C matches (between Costa Rica, Scotland, and Sweden) and one round-of-16 match between Ireland and Romania.
All four stands of the stadium are covered and have two tiers. The Distinti Stand is the only stand of the ground which has three tiers and is the most impressive stand of them all. With no running track and stands so close to the pitch, the atmosphere is fantastic. The most fanatic supporters of UC Sampdoria are housed in the Gradinata Sud (Italian for "South Grandstand,") the stand behind one of the goal ends. For Genoa CFC games, the Gradinata Nord ("North Grandstand") is the main section for the home supporters. Probably unique in the world, Stadio Luigi Ferraris has two away sections inside the ground. Away fans are located in one of the corners on both the first and second tiers of the Main Stand ("Tribuna"); which away section depends on if Genoa or Sampdoria is playing their home match.
On 29 February 2012, Team USA played a friendly against Italy in Stadio Luigi Ferraris as a preparation match for the European Football Championship in Poland and Ukraine. It ended 0-1 in favour of the USA, thanks to a goal by Clint Dempsey. It was a historic victory, as this was the first time Team USA beat Italy in a football (soccer) match.
(Note: exchange rates are current as of the time of this posting, March 2014.)
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are a few counters underneath the stands where you can buy drinks and food. I wish I could say there was a large variety to choose from, but unfortunately the counters are so '90s. We bought a couple of beers (€2.50/£2.00/$3.50), a cola (€2.00/£1.65/$2.75), a coffee (€1.20/£1.00/$1.65), and two bags of 100 grams of chips (€1.50/£1.25/$2.00). For all of this, we paid only €11.20 (£9.25/$15.50), which is a more than a fair price inside a stadium. Though the choice of food and drinks is poor, the price is rather cheap. Besides the cheap price, there is another big plus: unlike the regulations governing the grounds in England, in Italy you are allowed to bring alcoholic drinks into the stands. So, we enjoyed our beer in the stands while watching the game.
The stadium is very compact, and the stands are very steep and close to the pitch. The proximity to the pitch makes this my favourite ground in Italy. This makes the Luigi Ferraris an impressive stadium. Everyone inside the ground is close to the action. The four terracotta-coloured corners at each side of the stands gives the stadium a really unique feature. All the seats inside the ground are coloured blue and have a backing. At the lower tiers of the Gradina Sud and Nord, the spectators stand during the whole match.
Luigi Ferraris lies about two kilometres northeast of the city centre in the district of Marassi. This district is built against a couple of hills, and the stadium is situated in a valley. From inside the stadium, you have a good view of the houses on the hills during the daytime. Marassi is quite a busy area. Many important roads (the Via Bobbio and the Corso Alessandro di Stefanis) that get you out of the city, pass alongside the stadium. In the area around the stadium, there are plenty of restaurants where you can eat. There are a couple of Chinese restaurants and some good Italian restaurants (O Sole Mio, Pizzeria Da Carlo, and Al Rustichetto), are all within five minute walking distance of the ground. We decided to try the restaurant O Sole Mio at the Via Feraggiano. That turned out to be an excellent choice! The restaurant serves various kinds of pizza (prices range from €6/£5/$8.25 to €11.50/£9.50/$15.85), various pastas, and even fresh fish.
The Genoa and UC Sampdoria fan base is pretty loyal. In the Serie A (top of Italian League football), they fill their stadium each match with an average of over 25,000 fans. Both fan sites make a very tough atmosphere for their opponents. The Italians fans, called Ultras, are very vocal and support their teams for the whole 90 minutes with (large) flags, banners, and even pyrotechnics.
There are two large train stations in Genoa (Stazione Principe and Stazione Brignole). Stadio Luigi Ferraris is about a 10 to 15 minute walk from Stazione Brignole. Just walk along the banks of the Bisagna River, you will find the stadium on your right hand side. Keep in mind that the Brignole station is mostly used by regional trains, while intercity trains from Milan or Rome will stop only at the Stazione Principe. From this station, you can get a train to Brignole or take a city bus towards the stadium. When walking towards the stadium, keep in mind that the streets from the Brignole station are overcrowded with traffic (mostly scooters).
We bought our tickets for the match against Juventus via Listicket.it. This is an Italian version of Ticketmaster. Of course, we had to create an account first before we could order our tickets online. Tickets for Genoa CFC and UC Sampdoria home matches are categorized in A, B, and C-level matches. For A-matches, you pay more than for a C-match. Tickets in the Gradinata Nord and Sud (stands behind the goals) are sold for €20 (£16.50/$27.50), Distini €40 (£33/$55), Tribuna Laterale (side) €60 (£49.50/$82.65), and Tribuna Centrale €100 (£82.65/$137.75). (I took a photo of the stadium plan.) The stadium itself and the atmosphere inside the stadium made the €20 I paid for my ticket really look like a bargain.
Both clubs don't offer stadium tours, which is very unfortunate when you are in Genoa and there is no match day and you still want to visit the ground. The good news is that every weekend there is a match to be played at Stadio Luigi Ferraris. One week, there is a home match of Genoa CFC, while the other week, UC Sampdoria is playing at home. Besides plenty of restaurants in the area of the stadium, there are many small bars to get a beer as well.
The Luigi Ferraris is a one of a kind stadium in Italy. If you like to visit football grounds, this stadium should be high on your list. The city of Genoa is worthwhile to visit, too. There are a lot of museums, churches, and at the port, there is a large aquarium. In the historic centre (centro storico) the narrow alleys are really a must see attraction. We have spent two days in Genoa and saw most of the highlights. I will certainly come back to this city one day!
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