Football is king in Rome and all over Italy, Football crazy. If you're interested in spectator sports, football is Rome' unmissable attraction but Rugby however, the six Nations and rugby world cup are fast catching up as matches are now attracting vast crowds of supporters. Italy have been the winners of the RBS 6 nations Wooden Spoon for 9 years of the last 11 years.
Spectator sports claim infinitely more enthusiasm than participatory sports. Romans diligently follow their football clubs’ efforts in the Corriere dello Sport newspaper. Rome has two main football clubs, both in the Serie A (top division) – the traditionally left-wing AS Roma (website: www.asromacalcio.it) and right-wing Lazio (website: www.sslazio.it). Both perform at the Stadio Olimpico (tel: (06) 323 7333), the 85,000-seat stadium that hosted the 1990 World Cup Final.
The sporting season kicks off in Rome with the Marathon (in March) and then provides a welcome opportunity to show off new hats and outfits at the Concorso Ippico Internazionale di Piazza di Siena – International Show Jumping (late April to early May). The Italian Open Tennis championships now attracts some of the biggest names on the circuit and is held in the first week of May.
Tickets to sporting events must be purchased directly from the venue box office or, in some cases, through the club websites.
Golf: Golf is considered to be quite an upper-crust game in Rome. Most clubs will receive non-members on production of a membership card from their native country, showing their handicap. Fees are usually based on a day’s play. Country Club Castelgandolfo, Via di Santo Spirito 13 (tel: (06) 931 2301), is located just outside Rome, within a volcanic crater. Rates rise from €47 on weekdays to €57 at weekends.
Gyms and squash: Setting foot in a Roman gym can be overwhelming if not equipped with the right gym wear (expensive) and body (tanned and toned). Those brave enough could try the Roman Sport Centre, Villa Borghese, Via del Galoppatoio 33 (tel: (06) 320 1667). Rome’s largest health centre and open to non-members for €26 per day, it incorporates two gyms, squash courts, two Olympic-size swimming pools, aerobic courses, massage, sun beds and saunas.
Swimming: La Piscina delle Rose, Viale America 20 (tel: (06) 592 6717), is large, open-air and much in favour with the locals. A passport to a day of relaxation costs €10, while an afternoon stay costs €8 (sun-lounges cost more). The Cavalieri Hilton, Via Alberto Cadlolo 101, Monte Mario (tel: (06) 3509 2950; website: www.cavalieri-hilton.it), also allow non-residents to splash around in their outdoor and indoor pools but rates are higher.
Tennis: Tennis club Circolo della Stampa, Piazza Mancini 9 (tel: (06) 323 2452), is owned by a group of journalists and welcomes non-members.