Well connected and nestled neatly adjacent to the equally picturesque towns of Venice, Verona and Padua, the Italian city of Vicenza is located in the Veneto region of Italy. For several centuries this was a city that was governed by the Venetians; then Napoleon and then the Austrians.
In 1866 Vicenza became part of the new Kingdom of Italy but the architectural splendour of its centre still tells a tale of this complex political background.
It is a prosperous town just as it was under Venetian rule.
Its central pride is the fine architecture, much of which still survives from previous periods. Chief amongst these is the Palladian influence an early 16th century architectural style which originated in the works of Andrea Palladio and is based on classical Roman architecture.
But the city of Vicenza has another piece of historical pride; one at which its football club plays its football.
Comunale Stadio Romeo Menti
Romeo Menti (5 September 1919 – 4 May 1949) was perhaps Lanerossi Vicenza’s first classical footballer. He scored 145 goals in a career that spanned fifteen years but his tragic death came amongst his team-mates in 1949 when the entire Torino died in the Superga air disaster.
Just as Vicenza is known for its Palladian buildings so Lanerossi Vicenza are known for the Romeo Menti Stadium – an icon for Vicenza Calcio.
Today’s Romeo Menti is a place that recalls victories, iconic Vicenza footballers and extraordinary moments of club history. Located in quiet inner city urban area of the city the ground remains one of Italian football’s most hospitable stadiums for home fans but one of the most foreboding for visitors.
Its origins stem from 1934 when the municipality approved a project for the construction of a stadium along the banks of the Bacchiglione river. Its first title was the Littorio and that title lasted until 1949, when a decision was made immediately after the Superga tragedy to name the stadium after the Romeo Menti.
At its height, in the 1950’s, the stadium capacity was around 30,000. Currently however there is space for 12,000 people and the ground is showing its age. Despite in places resembling something out of an Argentine Barrio the Romeo Menti stadium retains some charm and is a true custodian of red and white fan emotions.
In recent years several efforts have been made to brush up the interiors and exteriors. Volunteers formed a group ‘Diamo un mano al Menti’ to tidy up the stadium. The exterior boundary walls were refurbished and negative messages about fan violence removed. New murals more colourful and with historical inferences were painted dedicated to the deceased legend of the club Paulo Rossi.
A club timeline meanwhile was erected on the exterior of the stadium.
Recent Years and the Future
The last 10 years for Vicenza have been nothing short of traumatic.
Those exterior walls of the Romeo Menti stadium tell the tale of club glory years from the 1930’s through to the memorable 1997 Coppa Italia win. However, in some ways it’s fortunate that a local football club still remains playing football at the Romeo Menti.
Then, in 2018, came the ultimate moment of trauma as Vicenza was declared bankrupt on 18 January.
While not unusual in Italian football a resolution to this crisis came when another local team Bassano Virtus were renamed and morphed into creating LR Vicenza Virtus – thereby inheriting the famous red and white striped shirt.
This merger created new hopes for the local team and brought Lanerossi Vicenza under the guidance of the local Diesel Fashion label.
Fortunes on the pitch continue to be a rollercoaster for Vicenza but the new owners have brought fresh ideas and newer hopes that such an iconic club can once again reach the top of Italian football.
On the current jerseys of L.R. Vicenza is the easily identifiable a symbol of an ‘R’. This symbol is a reminder and a tribute to the Lanificio Rossi of Schio (later just Lanerossi) the company, founded in 1817 which in June 1953 acquired the Vicenza football club.
The characteristic ‘R’ was actually the logo of the textile company. The letter made and sewn into the shirt resembles a single rolled and sewn fabric tape.
In July 2018, after the club’s acquisition by Renzo Rosso (founder of DIESEL, a global clothing company) Lanerossi’s ‘R’ became once again the cornerstone of the club’s symbolism alongside the brand ‘Diesel’ which is displayed on the front of the shirt.
You can see the set of images from Vicenza here.