You haven't completed your Naples experience until you see a Napoli soccer (football, for non-Americans) game in Stadio San Paolo.
To buy a ticket, you need to show photo ID such as a passport (since the ticket is only good for the person with the ID--this is to cut down on scalping). It is notoriously difficult to get tickets if you are not Italian; many games restrict sales to those living in (and/or born in) Campania. The best bet is to buy tickets with a local, although there are unconfirmed reports that it is easier for Americans to buy tickets directly from the main ticket booth (near the stadium) as opposed to ticket outlets (all around town).
Where to Sit
- Tribuna ("Grandstand")
- Onore - "Honored" VIP box, front and center, the most expensive seats
- Posillipo - named after the tony Naples neighborhood, slightly less expensive
- Nisida - named after the island where a NATO base and Juvenile Detention Center are, the cheapest Tribuna seats, off to the side.
- Distinti ("Separated Stands") - The other side of the stadium from Tribuna, this is probably a good option for newbies.
- Curva ("Curve") - The "curve" (behind the goals), divided into A and B. The cheapest seats, and where the most rabid fans ("Ultras", also called tifosi or "those infected with typhoid") go. The most entertaining place to sit, although it's best to have someone with you who has been to a game before or at least speaks Italian. There are two rival fan clubs within the curves, the Vecchi Lions and Mastiffs—you've probably seen their graffiti around town.
All three sections have a Anello Inferiore ("lower ring") and Anello Superiore ("upper ring"). There are discounts for women and kids under 16.
- Officially called Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli ("Naples Soccer Sporting Society", abbreviated as S.S.C. Napoli), Napoli is one of the oldest and most beloved soccer teams in Italy.
- In the 80's, Napoli had Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona, who led the team to two Serie A (Italian top-division soccer) victories. You can still see a "shrine" to Maradona on Spaccanapoli.
- In 2004, Napoli had financial problems which contributed to their being dropped to Serie C (low-division soccer), although they triumphantly returned to Serie A in 2006.
- The team's owner since 2004 is film producer Aurelio De Laurentis, TV chef Giada De Laurentis' cousin.
- Napoli's main rival is Roma (sometimes called the gialerossi, or "yellow-and-reds," due to their team colors...their team song is "Grazie Roma"). Matches against the top Serie A teams (such as AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus) are also popular.
- The team is often called the Partenopei, which is an old Greek name for the "old city," which was near where Castel dell'Ovo is today (remember that Neapolis = "new city"). The name comes from one of the sirens who tried to lure Odysseus onto the rocks (allegedly near Sorrento, whose name derives from "siren")...when she failed (because Odysseus had lashed himself to the mast and made his oarsmen cover their ears), Partenope killed herself and she allegedly washed ashore near Naples.
- Team Mascot: donkey
- Team Color: light blue (thus another nickname is Azzurri or "light blues").
- Sponsor (since 2005): Lete (drinking water)
- Unofficial team song: Nino D'Angelo's "Quel ragazzo della curva B" from a film of the same name, with the refrain "Napoli! Napoli! Napoli!" (See a clip of the actual, modern-day "guys from curva B" singing this song, also known as "Inno Napoli".)
- More recently (around 2015) "Un giorno all'improvviso" (based on an earlier song "L'estate sta finendo") became another unofficial theme song/chant (here you can watch fans chanting it), although other football/soccer clubs also use it (including, strangely, Liverpool as "Allez Allez Allez")
- An older-school song associated with the team is 'O surdato 'nnammurato (see the Neapolitan songs page for more)
- To learn more about the team, start with the S.S.C. Napoli Wikipedia page
Here's some basic Italian vocabulary so you can understand soccer terms:
- calcio = soccer (football), but can also mean "kick"...therefore:
- calcio d'angolo = corner kick
- calcio di rigore = penalty kick
- calcio di punizione = free kick
- giocare = to play, and giocatore = player, but usually "game" is not gioco but rather partita (e.g. C'è un gran partita domani tra Roma e Napoli = "There is a big game tomorrow between Rome and Naples"
- fuorigioco = "outside the game" = off sides
- squadra = team
- stagione = season
- pallone or palla = ball
- la porta = the "door" = the goal
- il portiere = the goalee (also the name for the "doorman" who takes care of an apartment, etc.)
- il palo = the pole
- la traversa = the cross-bar
- la rete = the net
- vincere/perdere = to win/lose
- Cartellino giallo/rosso = yellow/red card
- Campione, Campionato = Champion, Championship
- Campo = field (think of "campus")
- Arbitro = referee (e.g. L'arbitro è cornuto! = "The referee is a cuckold" aka "F*** you, ref!")
- Forza…! = Go...! (e.g. Forza Napoli! = Go Naples!)
Lots of other Italian soccer vocabulary is at the Offside Juventus's Comprehensive Calcio Dictionary. A Season with Verona, a book by Tim Parks, also explains a lot of Italian soccer culture.
Want to play soccer yourself? There's a small league of U.S. and NATO teams in the Naples area. For more information, contact the American Soccer Club at ASCNapoli@yahoo.com or check out their Facebook page