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Sports in Italy

  • BV Events
  • Wednesday, 17/Dec/2014

Football (or "Soccer") in Italy


Everybody knows that football (calcio in Italian, soccer if you speak American English) is Italy’s favorite pastime. The Italian national team (the Azzurri, from the blue color of the official shirt) has won the FIFA World Cup four times (1934 in Italy, 1938 in France, 1982 in Spain, and 2006 in Germany). The only other national teams that have as many, or more, wins are Brazil (five times) and Germany (four times).

The matches of the Campionato (football championship) have traditionally been played on a Sunday afternoon. However, since the introduction of pay TV, a few important matches have been played on a Saturday night (the so-called anticipo, Italian for “anticipated event”) or a Sunday night (the posticipo, or “postponed event”).

Olympic Stadium in Turin
The matches of the Campionato (football championship) have traditionally been played on a Sunday afternoon. However, since the introduction of pay TV, a few important matches have been played on a Saturday night (the so-called anticipo, Italian for “anticipated event”) or a Sunday night (the posticipo, or “postponed event”).

The premier league is the Serie A, where the top 20 Italian teams match each other from early autumn to late spring. The best team wins the scudetto, which makes the team’s fans very proud for a whole year. The first nationwide championship was held in 1898. The teams that have won the most number of scudetti are Juventus from Turin (30), Milan, and Inter (both based in Milan, winning 18 scudetti each).

The scudetto is so important for the Italian football fans that some of them prefer it to a victory in the European League, now called the Champions League. Notwithstanding, an Italian team, Milan, has won seven editions of the European League, second only to Real Madrid.

Since many people in Italy are football fans, there are very large football stadiums in the country, which are also used for concerts. The most famous stadiums are the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium at San Siro, Milan, home of the Inter and other Milan teams, the Juventus Stadium in Turin (that replaced the Stadio delle Alpi in 2011), and the Stadio Olimpico, home of Rome and Lazio.
 

Cycling in Italy

Even though cycling does not get all the attention of more TV-friendly sports like football, it is a much-loved sport in Italy. The most important race is the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy). The Giro is one of the three most important European tours, along with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. It is held in May and lasts for three weeks. Its first edition dates back to 1909. It was organized as a marketing event for the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport; in fact, the leader of the Giro is awarded a pink shirt (la maglia rosa) because the Gazzetta is printed on pink paper.

In addition to the Giro, Italy hosts two classic one-day cycling races: the Milano-Sanremo (the longest professional one-day race, 298 kilometers or 185 miles, in the spring) and the Giro di Lombardia (Tour of Lombardy, 254 kilometers or 157 miles, in the fall). These two tours are parts of the Monuments tours, the most prestigious one-day races. Italy hosts two of the five Monument tours. The other three Monument tours are the Tour of Flanders (Belgium), the Paris–Roubaix (France), and the Liège-Bastogne-Liège (Belgium).
 

Winter Sports in Italy

Although Italy is considered a country of sea and sun, both Alpine and cross-country skiing are very popular. Skiing is practiced especially in the North. Turin hosted the 20th edition of the Winter Olympic Games (and ninth Winter Paralympic Games) in 2006, beating the candidacies of Helsinki and Klagenfurt.

Alpine skiers in Italy have had very valuable models, like Zeno Colò (one gold Olympic medal and two World Championship medals), Gustavo Thoeni (three Olympic medals and four World Championship medals), Piero Gros (one Olympic gold medal, once a World Cup winner), Alberto Tomba (three Olympic gold medals and four World Championship medals), Deborah Compagnoni (four Olympic gold medals and three World Championship medals), and Isolde Kostner (three Olympic medals and two World Championship medals).

Cross-country skiing is also popular in the Italian peninsula. There are thousands of tracks, especially in the Alps. Even in this category, there have been Italian athletes who dominated the most important competitions (among them Stefania Belmondo, 10 Winter Olympic medals, and Manuela Di Centa, seven Olympic medals).
Italian athletes have been successful even in figure skating (Carolina Kostner has been particularly famous lately, winning an Olympic bronze medal and a World Championship gold medal) and luge (with the incredible career of Armin Zöggeler, the first athlete in the world to win six medals in six consecutive Olympic Games).

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