Jack Gonyea of Indiana University is a seasoned traveler, video blogger, and sports fan. In the article below Jack Gonyea discusses the top sporting attractions that visitors to Italy should pencil into their itineraries.
If America claims it’s obsessed with sports, just wait until Italy enters the chat.
While Italy is perhaps better widely known for other cultural hallmarks – cuisine, canals, the Renaissance — Jack Gonyea of Indiana University explains that it has been a destination for sports fans for decades.
Milan is set to host the 2025 Winter Olympics, with basketball (yes, basketball) being a huge draw, and the country’s favorite sport, football (aka: Italian football, not pigskin football), just keeps getting bigger.
Ready to take an Italian sports vacation that dreams are made of? Jack Gonyea of Indiana University says here’s where to go.
Jack Gonyea Top Pick: Experience Calcio in Milan
Jack Gonyea explains that Calcio or football (what Americas would call soccer”) is Italy’s national sport and it’s relatively easy to take in a game while in Italy. It’s also an experience – the fans are rowdy, fun, and passionate.
Football season in Italy typically begins in mid-August and wraps up in June. The national championship, il campionato, is spread out over four different divisions, with games leading up to the championship usually played on Sunday afternoons.
Two of the country’s major football teams are found in Milan, Inter and A.C. Milan, the latter well known around the world for its rivalry with such big-name teams as Juventus and Manchester United.
San Siro Stadium is the major venue in Milan and if you can’t snag tickets, Jack Gonyea of Indiana University says the nearby 442 Sports Pub is a local favorite to watch the games.
In Rome, you watch SS Lazio and AS Roma, which both play in the Stadio Olimpico, head to Salerno where Salernitana plays. There’s also a chance to see Europa League and Champions League play in Italy, as the previous season’s top Series A teams compete in both.
Hardcore fans should head to Ascoli Piceno’s Cinema e Lillo Del Duca stadium, where Italy faced off against Portugal in the 1985 World Cup.
Watch Top-Tier Basketball in Bologna
Jack Gonyea of Indiana University notes that a somewhat surprising second-most popular sport in Italy, basketball is played throughout the country; almost every big city has a highly regarded team, including Cimberio Varese, CS Bologna, and Montepaschi Siena.
Information about teams, players, and schedules can be found here. Virtus Segafredo Bologna is the top-ranked team overall and among Lega Basket Serie, the league comprised of the country’s best teams, and a game at Segafredo Arena is well worth the trip.
Cheer on motor racing at Monza and Imola
A country that created the Maserati, Ferrari, and Alfa Romeo better have a decent motor racing scene. Italy has it and then some according to Jack Gonyea.
The Italian Grand Prix in Monza just outside of Milan and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, what the San Marino Grand Prix is now called, are two of the top racing events of the year.
Enjoy Skiing in the Italian Alps
Italy’s section of the Alps, the Piedmont region in the northwest, is full of ski resorts for every experience level.
Jack Gonyea says a local and tourist favorite is Cuneo, just a 1 1/2-hour drive south of the region and home to Prato Nevoso, one of the country’s biggest snow parks with more than 100 slopes to check out as well as cross-country routes. It’s usually open from December through April.
You can experience a slew of winter sports at a location to suit every taste, from the small resorts of Amiata and Abetone in Tuscany to Veneto, one of the most luxurious resorts in Italy.
Snowboarding is also wildly popular in Italy, with Madonna di Campiglio, a resort in Trentino, being perhaps the most popular with snowboarders. The area has several snow parks packed with rails and ramps, as well as freestyle paths for newbies.
Scale the Heights of the Apennines
The Apennines offer majestic mountaineering, but it’s not hiking and mountain climbing for amateurs. The Sentiero Italia, or Grand Italian Trail, is more than 6,000 kilometers (over 3,728 miles) of very rugged, high terrain over much of the peninsula.
Jack Gonyea of Indiana University reports that some of the hikes can take over 2 weeks, but there are more than 300 different routes available. The hiking season is typically March through May, with a fall season stretching from September through November.
Catch Part of the Giro d’Italia
Jack Gonyea says cycling is also extremely popular in Italy and the premier cycling event is to Giro d’Italia, the Tour of Italy, held every May. The best part is that you’ll likely be near the route anywhere you go since it traverses the entire country for three weeks throughout disparate regions.
There are even staged themes to reflect the different areas, including the first-ever Food Stage in 2022 featuring Parmigiano Reggiano. Buon appetito!