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Official Review by Stefano Romagnoli, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Stadio San Paolo is the largest sports facility in the city of Naples. For seven years, from 1984-1991, one of the greatest soccer players of the twentieth century, Diego Maradona, was seen on the playing field of El Pibe de Oro.
San Paolo Stadium is located in the Fuorigrotta neighborhood, in the western and most populous part of the city of Napoli. Since 1959 it has hosted the home matches of the Societŕ Sportiva Calcio Napoli.
It was opened on December 6, 1959 with Napoli playing host to Juventus in a match of the 10th round of Serie A, the top level of Italian football. The match was won 2-1 by the home team (Vitali, Vinicius, Cervato the authors of three goals).
San Paolo Stadium has also hosted some matches for the Olympic Games in 1960, several competitions of the European Championships of 1968 and 1980, as well as five matches during the 1990 FIFA World Cup (including the semi-final Italia vs. Argentina).
Previously the Azzurri (the nickname of the players of Naples comes from the colors of the sky and sea of this corner of Italy) had played at the “Stadio Militare dell'Arenaccia,” at the “Partenope Stadium,” and at the “Arturo Collana Stadium.”
The “Stadio Militare dell'Arenaccia” and the “Arturo Collana Stadium” are still present in the city. The “Partenope Stadium,” wanted and funded by Giorgio Ascarelli, the first president of Napoli, was destroyed during World War II by the Allied planes bombing.
The Italian national football team has played at the San Paolo Stadium on 23 occasions. The first occurred in 1960, and overall the National team has a record of 12 wins, 5 draws and 6 defeats.
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".
Naples is known worldwide for being the city where pizza was invented. So before entering the stadium it is required that you stop in one of the many pizzerias in the Fuorigrotta district. You can find a classic "Margherita" pizza with tomato, mozzarella and basil at a cost of just 1 euro.
Even the coffee is a tradition in this part of Italy. It is served accompanied by a glass of water. Warning: never drink the water after the coffee, always before, or the barman would think that the black drink in the cup is not liked. Outside and inside the stadium the price of a coffee is 0.80 euro.
Also sample the desserts (pastiera, the curly sfogliatella, the baba), dishes based on fish and fries (similar to London's fish and chips in Naples there is o'cuoppo).
After 60 years, the stadium still looks as good as ever due to several renovations over the years.
San Paolo Stadium was designed in 1948 by architect Carlo Cocchia. The work to build it lasted about six years. But its present appearance is very different from the original one.
Owned by the municipality, the facility was modernized to host the European Championships in 1980 and the FIFA World Cup in 1990. Finally in the summer of 2010 it was the subject of another restyling.
Today it appears to the public with three rings (the upper one, however, is closed) oval, totally covered and with a lighting system housed in the attic, some LED screens about 16 meters long placed in the stands Distinti and Centrale, and an athletics track with eight lanes. The pitch measures 110 x 68 meters.
In addition, within the system, there is space for several gyms used for boxing and martial arts.
San Paolo Stadium, with its 60,240 seats, is the third in Italy in terms of capacity after the Meazza in Milan and the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and just ahead of the Franchi in Florence and Juventus Stadium in Turin. Napoli is fourth in Italy for number of fans, only behind Juventus, Inter and Milan.
The first name of the structure was "Stadio del Sole." The current name is the result of the legend that the apostle St. Paul arrived in Italy docking right in the Fuorigrotta district.
In Fuorigrotta there are several faculties of the University of Naples Federico II, the oldest state university in the world, founded in 1224.
There are other sports facilities including the swimming pool known as Felice Scandone, the true temple of Italian water polo. The Mostra d'Oltremare, a major fairgrounds, and an amusement park is also worth a visit.
There is no lack of hotels as within a short walk from the Stadium San Paolo there is a four star lodging option, along restaurants, pizzerias, and fast food.
San Paolo Stadium offers one of the warmest group of supporters in Italy and Europe. Attending a football match of Napoli at the San Paolo is a unique experience. Blue scarves and flags color the different areas of the stadium. The songs accompanying the actions of the players and to every goal of the local team seems to be an earthquake.
The most ardent fans follow the match from the two curves, A and B. Since the 1980's there has been a friendly link with the supporters of Genoa. Napoli's biggest rivalries are with the fans of Hellas Verona, Atalanta, Juventus, Milan, and Inter.
Fans can reach the San Paolo Stadium by car. There are several car parks, but after matches the traffic in this area of the city flows slowly. You may also use the different public transport links in the Fruorigrotta district.
If you are arriving by car, then you can access the stadium via highway A1 (Milan-Naples) or highway A3 (Naples-Reggio Calabria), going to Tangenziale Napoli exit 10 "Fuorigrotta".
If you are renting a car or taking a taxi, then it is about 20 minutes from Naples International Airport or about 15 minutes from Naples Central Railway Station.
The stadium is only few steps from the train station "Napoli Campi Flegrei," subway line 6, stop "Mostra d'Oltremare," city train line 2, stop "Napoli Campi Flegrei"; city train line Cumana, stop "Mostra d'Oltremare"; or bus station "Campi Flegrei" (city and suburban buses come here).
The cost of a ticket to enter San Paolo Stadium varies by sector, from a minimum of 25.00 euro for the two curves up to about 100.00 euro for the "Tribuna d'onore." The tickets can also be bought online.
On the team's website, under "Online ticket," you can see the events scheduled during the football season and the cost of tickets for individual sectors of the stadium.
In addition there are always tickets which include concessions, including the initiative "Tribuna family" which offers a special price for adults with small children accompanying.
There are several areas on the world heritage list near the stadium including the archaeological areas of Pompei, Herculaneum, and Torre Annunziata; historic centre of Naples; and the Costiera Amalfitana.
The typical Neapolitan cuisine, with pizza, desserts, and fish dishes makes this a great destination for stadium travelers.
The islands in the Golfo di Napoli: Capri, Ischia, Nisida, Procida, and Vivara are beautiful and worth a visit if you can.
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