While our International Ground Guide is undergoing some maintenance, we thought we’d provide our usual service of advice and information for travelling supporters in brief blog form.
Once up and running again our ground guide will cover all manner of information from travel options to hotel advice, eating and drinking suggestions to practical tips on getting around, along with safety and security advice and anything else we think will be of use to travelling supporters.
In the meantime, while the below might not necessarily have all the information you’ll be after if you’re heading out to Italy, we’re always available to help – just drop us an email if you have any questions.
We’ll do our best to find out what you need to know, either from our own vast experience in covering England and Wales games abroad, or from our friends at Football Supporters Europe.
About the Team
The club was initially founded as Naples Football & Cricket Club in 1904 by English sailor William Poths, and didn’t come to be known as their current incarnation, Societa Sportiva Calcio Napoli, until 1964. But that alone doesn’t tell half the story.
After their rapid rise and period of Maradona-led success in the 1980s the club ran into financial troubles. They gradually fell down the division and were relegated to Serie B in 1998. A brief one-season return to Serie A was followed by more poor form, and money troubles saw the club declared bankrupt in 2004.
They were forced to change their name to Napoli Soccer, and were demoted to Serie C1. Film producer Aurelio de Laurentiis re-founded the club, and in 2006 brought back the SS Napoli name. They returned to the Italian top flight on the last day of the 2007 season.
The club have twice been Serie A champions, in 1987 and 1990, and are 3 times Copa Italia winners in 1962, 1976 and 1987.
Maradona also led them in their heyday to lift the 1989 UEFA Cup.
About the Stadium
The Stadio San Paolo is the third largest football stadium in the country (behind the San Siro and Stadio Olimpico) and can cram in just over 60,000 spectators. The stadium is a fairly basic concrete bowl design with two tiers all round, with the exception of the main stand which has an extra third tier.
The stadium is not often empty – even in their brief days in Serie C1 (having been demoted after going bankrupt) the club retained healthy attendance figures and set a Serie C1 individual game attendance record of more than 51,000.
Originally built in the late 1950s the San Paolo was renovated in time for Italia 90, and hosted the semi-final between Argentina and hosts Italy. There are famous stories of the Neapolitan locals holding up respectful banners for the then Napoli superstar Maradona. It was the only time in the tournament that the Argentinian national anthem wasn’t jeered, and Maradona went on to have the last laugh as he scored the winning penalty in the shoot out after the game had finished 1-1.
Away fans enter the stadium at Gate 33 and will be in the Upper Tier only. The actual seats have little back support and are set into concrete.
The home supporters are kept apart from the away fans by secure fencing, polycarbonate sheeting, and there is a sterile section at one side. Netting front, side and overhead is also in place to protect the visiting supporters from thrown objects.
Security Stewards will be positioned in the sterile area.
On arrival at the stadium and gate 33 there is a ramp, portable metal barriers are utilised to control queuing at which point Security Stewards will carry out a ticket check, then prior to reaching the full-length turnstiles fans will be searched by Police. Entry to the stadium is gained via a bar coded ticket.
Visiting fans are advised to congregate/ socialise in the ‘Varco Pisacame’ area of Naples, which is situated near to the port. Free transport is typically provided and available near to the harbour gates. The coaches/buses will then be escorted to the stadium by Police.
About the City
You might think that Napoli is bound to have Roman origins, but you’d be wrong; the Greeks got their first. Napoli (or Naples) is a derivitive from the Greek name Neapolis, which means new city. Dead imaginative, those Greeks.
The capital of the Campania region and the third biggest city in the country, Napoli is dominated by the towering sight of Mount Vesuvius and lives in constant danger of an eruption which, depending on the scientists you listen to, could be due any day now. Certainly adds an edge of danger to a European trip that most cities can’t match!
The city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and as you’d expect there’s a hefty number of iconic buildings and museums and a smattering of stunning architecture to take in going back to medieval times, and including some greek and roman ruins, too.
We’ll not list them all (best going to the tourist office to get a map when you’re there), but it’s worth checking out the Castell dell’Ovo at the port, which houses the prehistoric museum; the Castelnuovo with is a huge medieval castle on the shore; the Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte is a must if you’re an art fan, while if you want to find out more about archeology and the local ruins at Pompei then the Museo Archeologico Nazionale is the place for you.
If museums aren’t for you and you just fancy a stroll and looking at some nice buildings, then head to the Duomo, Napoli’s main cathedral, and then to Piazza del Plebiscito which is the ‘main’ square in town, and is home to the Royal Palace, San Carlo Theatre and the Umberto Gallery. A pleasant spot to stop and watch the world go by.
Eating and Drinking
It’s all about the pizza. No, really. You might think we’re being lazy and have just made a connection between an Italian city and plumped for either pizza or pasta, but no. Napoli is the home of pizza. It was invented here. To not have pizza in Napoli would be like not having a curry in India, or a bottle of Brown Ale in Newcastle.
The Margherita was the original, and should include tomato, basil and fresh mozarella. Accept no substitutes. Napoli is littered with dozens and dozens of authentic pizzerias, so you’ll not be far from anywhere serving some decent grub.
Given its coastline location, it’s unsurprising to note that seafood features very heavily in the neapolitan cuisine, particularly mussels and fish in their pasta dishes such.
If you’re looking for specific recommendations for restaurants then you could do worse than Da Michele at Via Cesare Sersale or Trianon on Via P Colletta in town, or Trattoria Castel dell’Ovo down at the port on Via Luculliana.
The real nightlife scene is around the bars and cafes on Piazza Bellini, Piazza Santa Maria la Nova and Piazza San Domenico Maggiore in the city centre, although things tend not to get busy around here until at almost midnight.
Down at the port there are plenty of cafés and bars frequented by tourists, and the district of Varco Pisacarme is a particular favourite (and, importantly, is advised by the authorities as a safe area).
Thanks to Pachos for the image used in this blog, reproduced under Wikimedia Commons licence.