Construction of Italy's most famous stadium began in 1928. Designed to be the centrepiece of Italy's growing sports culture, the work was unfortunately delayed due to World War II, and the stadium was not completed until 1953. The opening of the stadium was marked with a match between Hungary and Italy which was attended by a massive 100,000 strong crowd!
Since 1953, the stadium has gone through numerous changes and re-developments. In 1960 the Olympics came to Italy, and Stadio Olimpico served as the nations venue for numerous Olympic events. To suit the needs of the tournament, the stadium was redeveloped to be all seated, resulting in a smaller capacity of 53,000. Its next main refurbishment did not take place until the 1980s, when the stadium was chosen to host the 1990 World Cup. In order to modernise the venue, the stadium was almost totally rebuilt. A roof was constructed and stands were moved closer to the pitch in order to increase capacity by over 20,000 to 74,000 seats.
Stadio Olimpico is best known as a football venue and is home to Italian clubs Lazio and Roma. However, it is also often used by the Italian National Rugby Union Team, and has hosted numerous rugby matches throughout its history including Italy vs France and Italy vs Ireland during the 2013 Six Nations, in which Italy was victorious.
Bars serving alcohol are available within the ground, but for that all important pre-drink or post-match beer, there are a number of pubs close by to keep you entertained.
The Highlander Pub is approximately 30 minutes walk from the stadium and serves delicious draught beer and excellent pub food. The pub also shows all Six Nations matches, so you are sure to find a rugby friendly atmosphere here.
Abbey Theatre in the city (just off Piazza Navona) is a great Irish Pub which is a safe bet for watching the rugby if you are not visiting the stadium. The pub also sometimes offers free return travel to the stadium if you are attending a match. However it is best to check this if you are attending.
Rome is a fantastic city to visit, and if you can turn your trip to the Stadio Olimpico into a long weekend or extended holiday you will not be short of things to do or sights to see.
A trip to Vatican City comes highly recommended, alongside visits to Rome's numerous Piazzas, churches and historical cathedrals. The 1st Century AD Colosseum is a must-see for those all important photo opportunities, alongside the beautiful St Peter's Basilica and the spectacular Trevi Fountain located in Piazza di Trevi.
Italy is also of course famous for its amazing cuisine and fashion. If you're looking to enjoy the plethora of shops in the city, head to the Tiber River's eastern bank where you will find top designer stores and high street chains alongside antique shops and some glorious architecture.
The stadium is located a little north of Rome itself (4km) within the Foro Italico Sports Complex. It is surrounded by beautiful scenery including the river Tiber to one side and a nature reserve on the other.
The stadium is easily accessible via Rome's Tram 2 which stops at Mancini close to the stadium. Buses also regularly run to the complex. Grab number 32 from metro stop Ottaviano, just north of Vatican City, which will bring you to the nearby Tennis courts.
You can also reach the stadium by car via the Rome Ring Road (G.R.A), taking the N5 exit towards Flaminia. Follow signs to Foro Italico.
Did You Know
The Stadio Olimpico has played host to not only sports events including the Olympics and FIFA World Cup Finals; world famous bands and artists including David Bowie in 1996 and Muse in 2013 have also lit up the stadium with sell out concerts. Madonna has performed there three times!
Stadio Olimpico is the second largest stadium in Italy, second only to San Siro Stadium in Milan.