Are you considering a trip to the Stadio San Paolo to see Napoli in action? Luckily for you, Joe Ginto takes you through a visit to the home of the Partenopei.
The passion of Neapolitans is difficult to explain and impossible to understand without visiting the city and topping it off with a pilgrimage to the Stadio San Paolo which serves as the spiritual heartbeat uniting this ancient city.
The long history and importance of Napoli to Italian football stretches far greater than its pair of scudetto triumphs and handful of Coppa Italia trophies would suggest. The city serves as a rallying point for disaffected southern Italians and the club coalesces this emotion into a battle cry stretching across the peninsula.
The massive seating capacity of the San Paolo (60,240) means the stadium is normally only sold out for Champions League ties and whenever Juventus come down to lock horns under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius.
Tickets can be purchased through the club’s official broker, Listicket (www.listicket.com), or at any of the official club shops that dot the landscape of this coastal town.
The famous Galleria Umberto has an agency where match tickets can be purchased and there are also now a few ticket outlets within walking distance from the San Paolo including Blu Point Sport beside the Caffeteria degli Azzurri and the 1926 Napoli Shop behind the stadium. It is normally not advisable, though still possible, to purchase tickets at the Stadio San Paolo box office on the day of the match, but be prepared to wait in long lines if you go this route.
The stadium has seven different sections all with varying price points depending on the importance of the match and seat location. The cheapest tickets are in the Curvas located on either end of the stadium and you may pay as little as €7 or as much €30 per ticket.
There are four different “Tribuna” section with the most sought after tickets located in the Tribuna Onore where club officials sit. Tickets will range from €10 – €50 in the Tribuna Nisida to €100 – €200 in the Tribuna Onore section, though these are the most difficult tickets to purchase.
The “Distinti” section runs between the two Curvas on the West side of the stadium and are the most common seats with prices ranging from €10 – €40.
There are a number of luxury and economy hotels and hostels available for various price ranges located in Napoli, though there is very little lodging in the Fuorigrotta area, the western suburb of the city where the San Paolo is located.
Many of the most expensive and luxurious hotels are located near Via Margelina or Villa Comunale where you can stroll along the coastline with magnificent views of Mount Vesuvius. However, since Naples is very much a walking city with plenty of trains and buses available, there is little reason to constrain oneself to a specific part of this ancient city.
The city is serviced by Naples international airport, or Capodichino as it’s normally referred to, located a few kilometers north of the city.
A number of shuttle buses or taxis can easily take you to your destination, though it’s generally best to secure an approximate rate with a taxi driver before climbing in. The drivers are as famous for their ability to snake through crowded streets as they are for preying upon unsuspecting tourists.
Despite the influence the football club has on this city, there are no shortages of other places to visit and sites to see in Naples. The city traces its roots back to the ninth century B.C. and its beautiful vistas and cultural importance have served as a vacation destination for centuries.
Unless you are intimately familiar with the city, it is not advisable to drive as the winding streets are filled with passengers, motor bikes and buses who seemingly all take a video game approach to crossing streets and merging with traffic.
A sightseeing bus with multiple locations to hop on and off is an excellent option given its simplicity and easy access to many picturesque and popular sites. The most popular option is through a company called City-Sightseeing which has three different routes available, all making multiple “must see” stops and an all-day ticket can be purchased for €17. Additionally, you can strike out on your own and purchase a three-day ArteCard Napoli pass for €21 which will cover all road transports including buses, trolleybuses, Metro Lines, funicalars and trams within the urban area of Naples.
The most popular destinations are excursions out to see the Pompeii ruins, a railway funicolari ride (there are four) is worth a trip, especially the funiculare di Chiai as it provides views of the Gulf of Naples from Castel Sant’Elmo, or a simple stroll through Piazza Plebiscito and the nearby Capodimonte Museum provide a casual and entertaining atmosphere.
The city is frantic and always alive, so be aware of your surroundings and enjoy the chorus of singing, laughing and incessant arguing Napoletanos have over everything from the best sugar to use in coffee to the color and style of scarf that is appropriate.
As with any urban setting, it is best to avoid going out alone late at night and keep only what you need on your person as the city is rife with pickpockets and scam artists.
Naples is the undisputed birthplace of pizza and there are no shortages of varieties and pizzerias. Pellone (Via Nazionale 93) is a fantastic pizzeria located a few short blocks from Napoli Centrale with a fine selection of European beers and local wines. A dinner at Pellone should set you back roughly €15.
If you’re feeling adventurous you may want to check out Tandem (Via Giovanni Paladino, 51) located near San Domenico Maggiore where you can eat a complete meal including pasta, fresh fish, dessert and a glass of wine for under €20.
Naples is famous for its fish and two of the best places to visit are A Figlia do Marenaro or Corrado (Via Michele Tenore 37) located near the Piazza Carlo though you can expect to pay between €30 – €40 for a full meal.
As with most Italian cities, the city is dotted with cafes where you can pick up a panini, a slice of pizza and nearly any type of espresso drink. Watching the baristas on a busy morning and afternoon churning out drinks of all kinds also provides its own brand of entertainment.
Arenile di Bagnoli (Via Coroglio 14B) is a hot spot for dancing and concerts and easily accessible via bus. The locale offers open-air entertainment and is situated on the beach offering views of the famous Gulf of Naples.
If you want to immerse yourself into the true nature of the city, you may consider a trip to Piazza Bellini or Piazza Dante where you can grab a drink and watch as live musicians, street vendors and performers entertain the passers by.
Travel to San Paolo
The simplest way to travel to the stadium is via the subway given traffic on match days is even crazier than normal and there is little parking outside the grounds. You can go to Napoli Centrale, the main train station located in Piazza Garibaldi, and hop on the Metro Line 2 and get off at the Mostra stop (also sometimes called Fuorigrotta or Campi Flegrei). Just follow the chanting supporters from there on a brief 10-minute walk to the San Paolo.
At San Paolo
Before entering the stadium, ensure you have all appropriate documentation with you – i.e. match ticket and a passport or drivers licence.
There are also a number of vendors around the outside of the stadium selling shirts, flags, scarves, and other assorted items. Food and drink stands are limited so you may want to make sure you eat prior to entering the stadium.
Seating at the San Paolo is not an exact science unless you purchase an expensive ticket in the Tribuna Onore. Don’t expect to sit exactly where your ticket indicates and the stewards will often shrug or laugh when asked for help. Simply grab a seat in your general area and move if asked.
If you purchase a seat in one of the two Curvas be prepared for raucous singing, flares, smoke bombs and spending 90 minutes on your feet. For your own personal safety, it is not advisable to wear the opponents jersey to the stadium and keep your admiration for Juventus or any of the big clubs to yourself and enjoy a uniquely Italian experience!
Hotel: One night – €50 – €80
Flights: €90 return (although obviously this is dependent on time of year, schedule etc)
Airport transfer: €10 return
Match ticket: €7 – €200
Food: €6 – €10 pizza/pasta, €4 – €8 panini
Drink: Tea/Coffee €3, Coke €4, Beer €6
Metro: €2 per trip