The historic port city of Genoa is often under-appreciated by visitors of Italy, but the spectacle of watching Sampdoria play in one of the country’s most atmospheric stadiums, provides football fans with a great incentive to discover a city with much to offer.
As is the norm in Italy, buying tickets isn’t always the simplest process, but things can be completed easily enough by remembering a few basic tips.
The first is to remember to take ID as it will be checked at the turnstiles and bags are likely to be searched. A passport or EU driving license will be sufficient.
It is also worth noting that many discounts are available at Samp: Under-18s, Under-21s, Over-60s and female fans are often entitled to cheaper entry.
Buying a ticket in the Gradinata Sud, where the most passionate Samp fans reside, is impossible as it is permanently sold out to season tickets, but travellers seeking atmosphere could look for a place in the Gradinata Nord, where tickets there are usually priced at around €20.
Tickets may be purchased online via listticket.com and their website also contains the names and addresses of tobacconists where tickets can be bought in person.
Genoa’s Aeroporto Cristoforo Colombo is not the most glamorous, but it is regularly served from many major European cities. Ryanair fly from London Stansted and Alitalia run connections from Rome for travellers from outside of Europe.
City centre accommodation is ideal for a short break as the majority of attractions are within easy reach. However, walking can be tiring as much of the city is built on hills.
I have stayed at La Briosa Nicole, a simple, restructured apartment right in the centre on Via XX Settembre. It has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere that is available at low cost.
I also recommend the Casa Caminetto bed and breakfast on Passo dell’Acquidotto Piazza Manin. It has a homely enviroment with an English-speaking proprietor and the stadium and city are within easy reach.
Genoa is a lively city, inhabited by over 500,000 people who are crammed into the narrow strip of land between the sea and the mountains.
Given the slightly chaotic layout of the city, visitors can simply wander around the alleys or ‘Caruggi’ as they are called in the local dialect. These narrow alleys perhaps aren’t the most beautiful but still form the city’s beating heart.
The city’s main Piazza Ferrari is surrounded by art galleries, theatres and historic palaces and all these cultural attractions should be a good draw for any visitor.
Piazza Ferrari feeds into the main shopping street Via XX Settembre which is made up of beautiful arches and distinctive neon signs. The Sampdoria shop is nearby for those who wish to buy the world’s greatest football shirt.
Those after something different may wish to visit the remarkable Staglieno monumental cemetery. It was a favourite haunt of Friedrich Nietzche, but music fans will be intrigued by its connection to Joy Division as the cemetery contains the Appiani tomb which features on the cover of ‘Closer’.
There are beaches all along Corso Italia in the east side of the city and Bocadasse is a stunning, quaint old fishing village, where the rocks in the natural harbour were recently painted in Sampdoria’s club colours.
The city is famous for its flat bread Foccacia. Antonio Cassano admitted he loved the stuff and admittedly lost weight after leaving Samp. Another local delicacy is Farinata, a type of chickpea pancake that can be served with toppings. The city is full of bakeries that sell these inexpensive delights and I heartily recommend Foccacia e Dintorni at the start of Via di Canneto il Curto near the cathedral.
Genoa has also embraced the gourmet burger craze and Il Massetto on Via il Cannetto Lungo is a standout.
Trofie col Pesto and other pasta dishes using the local basil sauce are also well worth a try and are available at any good Trattoria.
The city’s port is often lively at night and there are many bars where one can sit outside and watch the world go by, although they’re not the cheapest options. However, the refurbished port is an excellent place to watch the ships come and go in this maritime city.
The narrow alleys around the San Lorenzo cathedral towards Piazza delle Erbe host a number of small bars, where people can congregate over cheap drinks whilst stood in the street.
Getting to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
The stadium is deceptively close to the city centre and can be reached on foot.
However, it is simpler for a first-time visitor to take a train or bus to the station at Brignole and follow the Sampdoria fans north along the river as they make the short trip to Marassi.
At the Stadium
A number of bars just before the Gradinata Sud fill up with raucous Sampdoria supporters, so it is often worth getting to the Marassi early to savour the atmosphere.
Inside it is easy to caught up in the brilliant spectacle of the colourful Samp fans getting behind their side.
The Marassi, with its steep stands and terracotta coloured structure, is a vibrant stadium and a great place to watch football.
Once the Blucerchiati raise their scarves, display their flags and sign along to the club anthems, it is hard to not to be taken aback by the atmosphere.
Hotels: €25-100 per night
Flights: Starting at €30 from London Stansted
Food: Pizza €5-10, Farinata €6-8, Pasta dishes €6-14
Public transport: €1,50 for 100 minutes, €4.50 for 24 hours