Forget Dortmund or Milan, add this club to your football trip bucket list.
Football tourism is booming. Whether it be a stag party or just a weekend trip away to catch some sun, football fans have been travelling all across the continent in recent times in search of the atmosphere and authenticity that simply isn’t on offer in the Premier League.
Many turn to the European footballing giants such as Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich or one of the Milan sides to get their atmospheric fix, but these are all well-trodden, and fairly expensive destinations to visit.
There is a new option on the cards though for those seeking to experience one of the most underrated footballing cauldrons in all of Europe- Serie A new boys Genoa.
Having secured promotion from Serie B last season, Italy’s fourth oldest club has reclaimed its rightful place in the top flight, albeit at the cost of city rivals Sampdoria.The Curva Nord Ultras at Genoa’s Stadio Luigi Ferrais were a sight to behold. (Credit: Rory Fleming)
An unforgettable match day experience:
Buoyed by the signing of Italian international striker Mateo Retegui from Boca Juniors over the summer transfer window, Genoa fans were hopeful of hitting the ground running upon their return to Serie A. However, a 4-1 humbling at the hands of Fiorentina proved to be a swift reality check for the Genoese.
Despite the disappointing result though, the Genoa fans proved that they belong amongst Europe’s elite, even if their team doesn’t.
From over an hour before kick-off, the stands of the Stadio Luigi Ferrais were filled to the rafters as the football mad town gave spine-tingling renditions of their club anthem and ‘You’ll never walk alone’.
Banners were unfurled, flags were waived and tifo displays were unveiled, as the 35,000 strong Genoa crowd put on a display which left you watching on in awe.
A footballing throwback, the stadium is grotty, unkept, filled with safety hazards and lacking in any meaningful form of amenities. In other words, it’s absolutely perfect.
Stripped of all the trivial adornments which are found in the contemporary football stadiums of the Premier League, walking through the bowels of the historic stadium offered fans a wave of nostalgia which is simply unattainable in the pristine environs of the Etihad or Emirates Stadiums.
Ostensibly just a slab of concrete and steel plonked in the middle of this industrious port city, or an Italian reincarnation of Ewood Park for those struggling to picture it, the Stadio Luigi Ferrais still somehow offered everything a visiting fan could want.The Cinque Terre is just 90 minutes from Genoa city centre. (Credit: Rory Fleming)
The practicalities of an obscure away day:
Getting there was far easier than anticipated too, with direct flights from Dublin now available into the city’s seafront airport. A 20 minute bus shuttle sees you reach the unassuming city centre with minimal stress, with all the main sights within walking distance from the central terminus.
Unlike its trendier neighbouring cities such as Milan and Florence, Genoa manages to avoid the tourist-induced price hikes which plague many of Europe’s most visited destinations. Those planning a visit can leave the piggy bank safely on the shelf, with the quintessential Italian feasts of pizza and pasta coming in well under a tenner.
The picturesque setting of the Cinque Terre is just an hour and half away by rail too, for those hoping to soak up not only Italian football culture, but some sun and sea too.
All in all, Genoa just doesn’t miss. From the fans to the food, you couldn’t ask for more from your next European away day.
Put Dortmund on the back burner, it’s this little slice of Ligurian heaven that deserves your attention.
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