There is nothing like sport to bring people together and make us experience emotions, even as “simple spectators”. There are sporting events that have captured the public’s imagination leaving lasting memories; sometimes, they even managed to change the cities that hosted them: as regards Rome, going back in time, we cannot but mention the 1960 Olympics or the Football World Cup’s final match in 1990. From rugby to horse riding, from tennis to swimming, the events organized in the city on a regular basis are however many and for all tastes, with the added value of the beauty of Rome that makes each event “unique”.
Among the city sports facilities, the gold medal goes to the monumental complex of the Foro Italico, at the foot of Monte Mario, in the north-western part of Rome: its symbol and its most iconic image are the 60 4-meter-high statues of athletes placed around the Stadio dei Marmi, now named after the sprinter Pietro Mennea and mainly dedicated to athletics. As you can imagine, there are many sporting events taking place within the complex. Every year, in May, the spotlights turn on the red clay courts of the Stadio del Tennis and the Pietrangeli Stadium, where it is possible to follow the challenges between top players in the Internazionali di Tennis d’Italia, the most important Italian tennis tournament. The Swimming Complex, which includes the Olympic Swimming Stadium, is in turn one of the main temples dedicated to aquatic disciplines: the last swimming world championships were held here in 2009, but every year it is possible to attend interesting and fascinating events, such as the Settecolli Trophy, the most prestigious swimming competition at national level.
The complex of the Foro Italico also includes the Stadio Olimpico: completely renovated in 1990, the stadium is “home” to the two city football clubs playing in Serie A, the A.S. Roma and the S.S. Lazio, but since its inauguration in 1953 it has also been used for athletics competitions and events – including the Golden Gala – and other sports. Since 2012, oval ball lovers meet here on the occasion of the Six Nations Rugby Championship, the most important and extra popular European rugby competition between the teams of France, Wales, England, Ireland, Scotland and, of course, Italy.
Let’s now move from the Foro Italico to Villa Borghese, one of the largest and most celebrated public parks in Rome: elegance, style and technical excellence are the main ingredients of the CSIO in Piazza di Siena, the Official International Horse Show of Rome, one of the best horse competitions in the world. With rare exceptions, from 1929 onwards Piazza di Siena has been the scene of unforgettable shows, with extraordinary leading riders and other standard bearers of this noble sport. Remaining in the historic center of the city, its streets and terraces are also a privileged observation point to cheer on the thousands of runners who participate in the historic Rome Marathon: the 42.195 km race is a journey in the eternal city, starting from the Imperial Fora and passing in front of the Vittoriano, Piazza Venezia, the Circus Maximus, Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Peter’s Basilica. The list of running events is however long and includes, for example, the RomaOstia Half Marathon – the best known and most popular half marathon in Italy –, the Corsa di Miguel and the Appia Run, the latter starting from the Stadio delle Terme di Caracalla and winding through the historic and amazing Appian Way.
Motor lovers too have plenty of choice: Rome is an intermediate stop of the Mille Miglia, a historic open-road, motorsport endurance race that has now become a regularity race for classic and vintage cars parading along the main streets of the city center. Since 2013 the city has also hosted the Rally di Roma Capitale, a race valid for the Italian Rally Championship and the Fia European Rally Championship: three days of passion, adrenaline and sport starting from Castel Sant’Angelo. A dive into the future is the Rome E-Prix, the only Italian race included in Formula E, the single-seater motorsport championship that uses only electric cars. The city circuit winds through the spectacular architecture of the EUR district, with the iconic Square Colosseum in the background.
The EUR district is also home to the Palazzo dello Sport, also known as PalaEur, PalaSport or PalaLottomatica. Designed in 1956 by Marcello Piacentini and Pierluigi Nervi, it is one of the masterpieces of 20th-century rationalist Italian architecture and the largest multi-purpose arena in Rome. Throughout its history, it has hosted important boxing and volleyball matches, including two editions of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championships. It is currently the home arena of the professional basketball club Virtus Roma.
Finally, a last city record concerns golf: the Circolo del Golf Roma Acquasanta was the first Italian green to be inaugurated in 1903, along the Via Appia Nuova: 18 holes overlooking the mausoleum of Caecilia Metella and the Claudian aqueduct. On the opposite side of the city, on the Via Cassia, is the Olgiata Golf Club, which in 2019 hosted the Italian Open, the main Italian men’s tournament. Not far from Rome, 15 kilometers from the city center, the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Guidonia offers an unforgettable view, from hole 18, of the dome of St. Peter’s. The golf club has been selected as the European venue of the Ryder Cup which sees Europe against the United States: a ritual that has been celebrated every two years since 1927 and the most followed event in the world after the Olympics and the football world championships.