Rome remains one of Europe’s most enchanting cities. Tony Borowiec reports on a return to the Italian capital and a Roma match at the Stadio Olimpico
“We flew in to Rome’s Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) Airport from London Gatwick on an early Friday morning Easyjet flight. Transfer tickets were purchased for 9 Euros each way as we boarded the Terrorvision coach for the 50 minute trip to the city’s main railway station, Termini.
We bought 24 hour ATAC transit tickets (7 Euros) prior to setting off on the metro for a spot of lunch at our favourite trattoria near the Colosseum. Luzzis is a couple of blocks away from the iconic structure; we have become well known to the owner over the years, Luciano Luzzi is a big fan of AS Roma.
After a bowl of hearty soup, a plate of pasta and a couple of glasses of ‘vino de la casa’ we headed back to Termini on the metro before hopping on a tram to the Trastevere area for a stroll around the old heart of the medieval city, across the River Tevere (Tiber).
We walked back across the River with views of St Peter’s Basilica and took the #280 bus heading for the stadium, disembarking on Lungotevere Cadorna when we caught sight of the floodlights of the Stadio Olimpico.
“On our previous trip to watch Roma we were in the cheap seats way behind the goal (Curva Nord), this time we wanted to be closer to the action along the side and so we splashed out a bit for tickets in the Tribuna Tevere, opposite the main stand.
High-riding Roma secured a comfortable 3-1 win over newly promoted SPAL in front of 35,000 in this Friday evening fixture. It is almost 50 years since the team from Ferrara, about 30 miles north-east of Bologna, were last in Serie A. The visitors were a man down after 10 minutes following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) stoppage that confirmed the offender was the last man, the referee had initially given a yellow card.
Former Manchester City striker, Edin Dzeko opened the scoring, with Dutchman Strootman and Pelligrini putting Roma three up, but the Giallorossi proceeded to miss a hatful of chances to increase their lead. SPAL got their consolation goal from a twice taken penalty awarded after a Terry Hurlock lookalike was fouled in the box.
After the game we abandoned waiting for a bus in the cold, deciding to walk back towards the Vatican City where we had supper at Osteria Da Checco before taking the metro back to Termini.
State owned museums offer free entry on the first Sunday of the month; we had scheduled visits to two of them on our itinerary ahead of our final game of the trip. We visited the magnificent Baths of Diocletian, the largest public bathing complex of Ancient Rome and part of The National Museum of Rome just a short hop from the main entrance of Termini station, so named after the Roman word for baths ‘terme’.
We bought 48-hour ATAC transit tickets (12.50 Euros) and took the metro to Perimed for the overground train from Porta San Paolo to Ostia Antica, about 20 miles west of Rome.
On the short walk from the station to Ostia old town we passed by the sports complex of the local football club who play in the Rome regional league. We explored the extensive Ancient Roman Port site at Ostia Antico in glorious sunshine before taking lunch at Allo Sbarco di Enea on our way back to the station.
We returned to the station to board a train to Ostia Mare Lido for the afternoon Serie D / Group G fixture against Nourese, from Sardinia. The 1,000 capacity Stadio Anco Marzio is a short distance from the station; tickets were 5 Euros for seats in the single covered stand, with a small uncovered temporary stand each side.
The Nourese Ultras to our left were waving the Sardinian flag (the 4 Moors) and the Ostia Mare Ultras were standing to our right. Goalless at half-time, the mid-table home side won 2-0 on the artificial pitch in front of a couple of hundred spectators.
Following our return to Rome we took the metro to Battistini for a pizza at the football themed restaurant Du Pinse E Na Tenta, very popular with local families on a Sunday evening.
This is an edited version of a feature that first appeared in Football Weekends magazine, the fan’s guide for great trips in Europe and the UK. Visit www.footballweekends.co.uk for more details.