Before moving to the Stadio Olimpico, Roma and Lazio must surely have considered playing at one of the oldest stadiums around, the legendary Colosseum. Ancient Rome’s home stadium, the ground is in a state of serious disrepair, but remains an icon of Italian sporting history.
Ahead of its time
Built between 70 and 80 AD, the Colosseum was affectionately known by the Roman Tifosi as “the Flavian”. At its peak, it could hold 80,000 people, mostly all-seated. It was built mainly of travertine stone and held together with iron clamps. It was the first stadium to have numbered exits and stairways for each section, enabling the vast crowd to leave the ground in an orderly fashion.
Floated playing surface
The playing area is suspended on a roof-like structure with underground dressing rooms and other accommodation beneath the pitch. Before these improvements, any team wishing to use gamesmanship in the form of flooding the pitch, for example, could also do so, for the arena could be filled with water. Debris often litters the pitch, however, notably dismembered limbs, heads and copious amounts of blood.
Pre-match and half-time entertainment
Before the contest, jugglers and other acts entertain the crowd, and the game is often interrupted by a savage animal ripping a Christian to pieces in front of the baying Romans.
Getting to the ground
The Colosseum is situated close to the Forum and other artefacts of Roman history. A brisk 15 minute walk from the central railway station.
Spectators are given pottery chards that are numbered and indicate where their seat is in the stadium. The cheap seats, reserved for the plebeians – the Ultras of their day – are in the uppermost tier. The closer to the arena you are, the better your status in Roman society. The best seats in the house are reserved for the Emperor and his gang. The rest of the seats are set aside for the prawn panini eaters of the sporting fraternity.
Comfort (out of 10) 5 (those stone seats not good for your bottom)
Viewing 8 (a good view from every seat)
Facilities 5 (Spartan at best)
Accessibility 6 (slalom your way through dozens of people flogging selfie-sticks)
Catering 4 (a couple of stalls outside..overpriced and overused)