Stadio Olimpico (Olimpic Stadium)

The Olympic Stadium is an Italian multi-purpose sports facility in Rome. It stands at the Foro Italico, on the slopes of Monte Mario, in the northwestern sector of the capital.

Conceived in 1927 and originally known as the Stadio dei Cipressi, it was designed by Enrico Del Debbio and then resumed in 1937 by Luigi Moretti and used as a backdrop for the games of the fascist period; autoparco from the allied troops, in 1949 it was decided by CONI, its owner, the completion of a cure by Annibale Vitellozzi, who completed it in 1953; at the time known as the Stadio dei Centomila due to its capacity of around 100,000 seats, it was renamed the Olympic Stadium after the Rome Games of the XVII Olympic Games were awarded in 1960.

It hosts the occasion from the inauguration, which took place on 17 May 1953, of soccer competitions, athletics competitions and other sports, as well as extra-sports events such as concerts and stage performances. Since 1953, except for very brief interruptions due to renovation works, since the professional football companies of the capital, Rome and Lazio; The Golden Gala from 1980, the 1974 European Athletics Championships and the 1987 World Championships.

Since its opening, moreover, it has hosted, except occasionally, also international rugby matches to 15, to then become a permanent internal facility of the National team for the Six Nations tournament competitions,  after the abandonment by the FIR of the Flaminio stadium.

In its first form, the stadium, at the time called the “stadium of the Cypresses”, was designed and built as part of the wider project of the city of sport, initially called “Foro Mussolini” and then became, after the Second World War, the Forum Italico.

Even before the general plan of 1931 was launched, a general variant was envisaged in 1925-26 by Edmondo Sanjust di Teulada , edited by Edmondo Sanjust di Teulada in the area between Villa Madama and the Tiber, in 1925-26. area used as a multi-sports complex.  The directives given by Benito Mussolini to the Governorate of Rome in December 1925 provided that the urban and architectural development of the Capital should provide for large spaces around the monuments, new and pre-existing both by resorting to demolitions, that is to the demolition of buildings in the historic center with consequent transfer of the inhabitants to the newly established official townships,  both with the construction of new buildings with monumental functions characterized by large volumes and considerable detachments.

The stadium of the Cypresses in a photo of 1941, during a manifestation of the tripartite pact
Work began in 1927 on a design by the architect Enrico Del Debbio; the stadium was partially inaugurated, up to the first ring, in 1932. It was not foreseen the construction of building works, but only the arrangement of the gigantic basin and of the stands made up of grassy terraces similar to the area of ​​piazza di Siena.

In 1932, Del Debbio designed three different stadiums, called “dei Centomila”, which, however, were not implemented. Of these projects remain the tables that illustrate how the stadium on one side was leaning against the hill of Monte Mario, where the tiers were obtained, and on the other descended towards the flat part of the Forum.

Work resumed in 1937 by engineers Frisa and Pintonello but was interrupted in 1940 due to the outbreak of the Second World War. The plant in the meantime hosted gymnastic-sporting events and military parades

The construction site for the completion of the stadium reopened in December 1950. The project was entrusted to the engineer Carlo Roccatelli, a member of the Superior Council of Public Works, with the advice of the architect Cesare Valle who was also a member of the high ministerial assembly. At first, it was thought that the structure was more complex than the one actually built, but the scarcity of funds and the environmental characteristics of the area led to a less ambitious version.

On the death of Roccatelli in 1951, the direction of the works was entrusted to the architect Annibale Vitellozzi. In view of the XVII Olympic Games of 1960, the stadium thus reached the capacity of about one hundred thousand people already designed by Del Debbio. The seats, initially built in wood, were later replaced by others in light green stone; there was no coverage of the steps, with the exception of a small structure added later that, in addition to covering a small part of the Monte Mario Tribune, housed the press rooms and the commentators. The structure was inaugurated on 17 May 1953, with the arrival of the Naples-Rome stage of the 36th Giro d’Italia and with the Italy-Hungary football match, which ended 3-0 for the Magyars: the first goal scored in the stadium was by Nándor Hidegkuti.

During the Games of the XVII Olympiad of 1960 the stadium, officially renamed “Olympic” hosted the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics competitions: with the occasion the standing places were eliminated, with the result of bringing the actual capacity to 65 000 spectators. Later the stadium hosted various editions of the Italian athletics championships, the 1987 World Athletics Championships and still hosts the Golden Gala annually.

The main feature of the Olimpico at the time was its surprisingly low elevation from the ground, [8] in spite of its considerable capacity, just as Enrico Del Debbio had foreseen the stadiums in his Foro Italico master plan. This result was achieved thanks to the partial elevation of the playing field, exploiting the natural concave shape of the ground around it. Thanks to these devices, the system perfectly integrated with the surrounding environment, offering a pleasant and contained visual impact. The only criticism over the years at the stadium was the excessive distance of the curves from the playing field, due to the presence of the athletic track and the need to trace the perimeter of the pre-existing structure, an aspect that penalized the viewing of football matches considerably.

1990: reconstruction and coverage

The stadium in 1989, during the reconstruction works in view of the soccer World Cup the following year
In view of the 1990 world championship, of which the Olimpico was the main stadium, radical restructuring interventions were planned. Due to the works, during the 1989-90 season the capitoline teams of Lazio and Roma played their home matches at the Flaminio stadium. The work was entrusted to an impressive team of designers, including the original designer Annibale Vitellozzi, the architect Maurizio Clerici, the engineer. Paolo Teresi and Ing. Antonio Michetti (structures). From 1987 to 1990 the intervention plan underwent numerous modifications, with a consequent rise in costs. Ultimately, the plant was almost entirely demolished and rebuilt in reinforced concrete, with the exception of the Tribuna Tevere, raised with the addition of further tiers; the curves were brought closer to the nine-meter field. All the sectors of the stadium were entirely covered with a white fiberglass tensile structure coated with PTFE produced by Montefluos, designed by the Zucker studio after an appeal to the TAR of Lazio had rejected the coverage originally planned. Seats without backrest in blue plastic were installed. Two giant screens, built in 1987 for the athletics world championships, were mounted inside the curves.

At the end of the work, the new version of the Olimpico exceeded the 82 922 seats, thus becoming the 29th stadium in the world in terms of number of seats (14th among those used for football) and 2nd in Italy, slightly lower than the Meazza stadium in Milan . The renovations, albeit with the result of an undoubtedly impressive and fascinating plant, did not take into account the impact on the surrounding environment: the raising of the steps and the roof completely distorted the principles according to which the stadium had been previously thought and built. The renewed Olimpico hosted Italy’s first five World Cup matches and the final between West Germany and Argentina, which consecrated the German World Champions. With the same conformation, on 22 May 1996 the Olympic stadium hosted the Champions League final between Juventus and Ajax.
Magnifying glass icon mgx2.svg The same topic in detail: Failed attack on the Olympic stadium in Rome.
In 1993 the stadium was the target of an attempted Mafia attack by means of a car bomb, which had the purpose of blowing up the Carabinieri vans on duty on the spot during a football match. The attack failed due to the malfunctioning of the electronic drive. [9]

2008: restructuring

Stadio Olimpico ( Olimpic Stadium ) RomeIn 2007, a vast internal restructuring plan for the stadium was launched to bring it into line with the UEFA rules ahead of the Champions League final which took place on May 27, 2009. The works, completed in 2008, included the upgrading of the structures, with improvements for security, the adaptation of changing rooms and press rooms, the complete replacement of seats, the installation of new high-definition digital screens, the withdrawal of benches, the partial removal of Plexiglas barriers between stands and playgrounds , and a reduction in seats up to the current capacity of 70,634 seats. The works also involved the increase in refreshment points and the adaptation of the toilets. These interventions allowed the Olympic stadium to return to “category 4” in the classification of UEFA stadiums.

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