Autumn flair at San Paolo
I Daniel Barthold
I SSC Napoli v FC Salzburg 1:1
If you ask many Italians about Naples, they will tell you that it is a bit different from other cities in Italy. People in the city distinguish themselves from rest of the country a little bit and one can tell that it is a special type of community where the local football club SSC Napoli plays an extremely important role as the heart and soul of the region.
When you arrive at one of the many squares (“piazza”) it is noticeable that Naples struggles economically – which is a bit of an issue in Italy that the North is much wealthier than the South. However, the grittiness of a port city and the roughness of the locals give it a certain charm and vibe. I visited Naples in November and with the wind howling, constant rain showers and grey skies it really feels that it is a tough place to go for any visiting football team. The support for SSC certainly seems unconditional and probably that’s why I liked the city straight away although, the weather was not the most inviting.
In terms of food, you will find plenty of home made pizza joints at various locations. It is all very down to earth so don’t expect top notch service, but that is exactly what makes Naples so interesting – it is an honest city that focuses on classic values and things are certainly affordable. I thought the value for money was very good.
THE GAME: SSC Napoli v FC Salzburg 1:1
Napoli clearly were not at their best tonight against a Salzburg side that certainly is onthe rise at the moment and finally able to compete internationally after they failed to qualify for the Champions League on numerous occasions in the past. The home side failed to create too many clear cut chances and despite trying in the 2nd half they only managed a few shots off target which resulted in a fairly disappointing 1-1 in front of 32,682 spectators.
Stadio San Paolo is a must see stadium from a groundhopper point of view! Why? There are many reasons. First of all, the passion of the fans and the construction of the stadium is quite unique in Europe. Almost like in South America, a very old stadium in a city where money does not grow on trees and where match days help to forget thelocals about the day to day struggles. The ground is very impressive, a huge oval that obviously needs an overhaul but that is exactly what I liked – Stadio San Paolo almost looks like it has not been renovated in decades apart from replacing the seats. All these modern arenas nowadays do not have a soul and are easily exchangeable, but SSC Napoli’s stadium is special in many ways, especially if you like it “old school”.
HOW TO GET THERE
Naples International Airport has direct flights to all major hubs in Europe. From London low budget airlines and British Airways all fly directly. The shuttle bus to Napoli Centrale costs 5 € only (one way) and takes about 25 minutes. A taxi to and from the airport is about 25€. Just allow enough time because traffic in Naples is pretty brutal and the locals are not the best drivers to say the least.
Born in 1983 in Hildesheim (Lower Saxony, Germany) and raised in the Hamburg Area. Supporter of FC St. Pauli and since 2010 living and working in London (England) as a sports business consultant. Groundhopping has been a passion since the early days but I am actively counting and ticking off grounds since the Euros 2004. I have been to 500 stadiums in 65 countries so far.