For delectable food and wine, fast cars, noisy scooters and a faultless eye for style read spectacular choreographies, colourful pyro and loyal support. All of these are just a few of the ingredients that Italians do well and romance (whether on the terraces or on pavement streets) is a commodity you can find almost anywhere in Italy.
Football and city architecture always sit side by side in Italy. Crumbling buildings are valued as some of the best examples of renaissance work anywhere. Likewise, in an age of bland new build stadia, many ageing Italian stadiums hold a emotive attachment to those of us whose memories of Italia ’90 are still held very close.
Bologna, capital of the Emilia Romagna region, is an unbeatable destination for food addicts and football watchers alike. A region know for cheese, ham and pasta dishes Bologna has a well earned reputation as a Gasto-capital of Italy. Likewise, the Renato Dell’Ara stadium in Bologna remains one of Italy’s finest; where all the finest ingredients of Italian football watching can be found. With its grand exteriors and open terraces, true passion can be felt inside on the home Curva Bulgarelli were Bologna’s most passionate fans congregate come match-day.
One of Italian football’s more traditional club’s Bologna FC known as the Rossoblu, are a team with a long history that includes seven Italian Serie A championships. A historic club they were a founding member of Serie A and perhaps the first Italian club to end the great northern domination of Serie A; challenging the big names of Inter, Juventus and Genoa.
Recent times for the club have been lean in terms of success with periods struggling in Serie B and at one point they were near bankruptcy. While the last period of great success came during the 1960’s fans of the club have still managed to enjoy a number of Italian legends playing at Bologna. These included for a short spell the great Il Divin Codino – Roberto Baggio. Baggio, who played for Bologna in the late 1990’s, enjoyed outstanding success at the club with only the Brazilian Ronaldo and Del Piero outshining him on the field at the time.
As a city perhaps without any of the grandeur of Rome or the galleries of Firenze, Bologna has a well earned reputation as a gastronomic city that is home to rich cuisine. It is also a very intellectual city known as ‘Bologna the Learned’ being an educational capital thanks to a local University which has a claim to be the world’s oldest place of academia.
But the most celebrated feature of the city are its porticos which stretch for around 28 kilometres under cover which make them a perfect picture frame for any Bologna building. Mostly erected in the late Middle Ages and based on those widely used in Ancient Greece the porticos form a right of passage for any visitor to Bologna. They enable stores to display goods in huge windows and citizens to stroll in unfavourable weather conditions.
As a city full to the brim with classical architectural decorum the home ground of Bologna FC Renato Dell’Ara fits neatly into that same theme. The original architects of the ground used a Roman model for its design and external decoration. Despite an upgrade for Italia 90 the Dell’Ara sits in perfect harmony with its surroundings. There is an imposing marathon tower fit with arches, windows and balconies that look down on the field.
This Marathon tower stands above a long portico, the Portico di San Luca said to be the worlds longest covered walkway.
The Renato Dell’Ara hosted football matches during both the 1934 and 1990 FIFA World Cup events although during the 1934 event the stadium was the ‘Littoriale’; a name commonly used for stadia created during the facist era. After the fall of the regime the familiar Communale label was used until a decision was made to rename the stadium after a former club Chairman Renato Dell’Ara in 1983. However, more recent years have seen the name and symbolism of Bologna’s most famous player Giacomo Bulgarelli become more commonly associated with the stadium following his death in 2009.
Perhaps the most famous match ever to be played at the stadium was the England against Belgium match of June 26th 1990, when a David Platt goal saw England through to the semi finals of the tournament.
You can see some images from Bologna here.