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Giuseppe Meazza Stadium-Milan | Glorious Sanctuary of Football.


In a northwestern corner of a vast district part of the Zone 7 of the administrative division of the Capital of Lombardy in a square with a tube station at a short distance immediately appears the legendary and magic silhouette of the iconic Giuseppe Meazza Stadium of Milan which with its historic museum could be considered a glorious sanctuary of Football and in a more recent era also elevated as a relevant tourist destination.


You will be in a Milanese neighbourhood called San Siro, in a point in which a subway stop established along the red line called Lotto takes its name from the square Piazzale Lotto, an open gateway of the second Italian city on which every visitor can breathe in that area a very distinctive atmosphere of sport in all its spirit and essence.

Once there you will face the emblematic Ippodromo di Milano, San Siro Hippodrome,  a notorious huge complex which hosts since many years ago among the most celebrated and famous horse racing competitions of the country elevated in 1920 with its main entrance in Piazzale dello Sport and declared National Monument.

That concrete urban area enclosed within the busy roads Via Novara, Via Gallarate, Via Rembrandt and a very strategic avenue called Viale Certosa corresponding to a territory east of Parco Trenno, a wide green metropolitan park situated at a short distance from the pretty big Lampugnano district, on the banks of the Olona river, not far from the old trade fairs and exhibition headquarter of the well known Fiera Campionaria.

That space where lies the current Stadium Giuseppe Meazza which was originally well known simply with the name Stadio di San Siro is situated in a district with the same name, an environment which forms a sort of urban belt around that kind of sport monument so famous worldwide to be a fascinating temple of football. 

Originally that huge neighbourhood before the construction of new modern buildings and sporting complexes was a peaceful verdant area called Corpi Santi, an autonomous rural borgo elevated as official commune in 1782  and annexed to the Milanese municipality in 1873.

It was historically an ideal place for families with children having long walks, group of friends who spent a lot of time playing football  or frequenting the few cafes established in its boundaries as main ideal local meeting points to enjoy an aromatic coffee or a cool drink in a very tranquil oasis of serenity at the door of a big metropolis.

Before to have an intense enlargement that site had a kind of image more similar to a sort of huge village than a vast quarter part of an important city, a place in which everyone knew each other,  a very familiar environment originally inhabited by people mainly identified in the social working class.
 
Around the underground structure there are some bars, an eternal pleasant smell of coffee in the air and you will face Via Caprilli, a large avenue flanked by row of trees on both sides and that is the main artery leading to the famous "Stadio".

The walls along that hallway corresponding to the perimeter encircling the mentioned Hippodrome today certify what you can breathe there, painted with murals depicting portraits or caricatures of famed football idols who left important marks in the history of the Milan which loves football next to other symbols representing in their most varied styles diverse executions of types of street art as several multicoloured graffiti, including some excellent Naïve and Folk works left by talented urban street artists.

In a walk of just 10 minutes along that axis you will reach La Scala del Calcio, that stadium so nicknamed in comparison to the famed and historic Teatro della Scala of Milan well known worldwide to be the superb seat of some of the most refined exhibitions of theatre and opera all time.

For the Milanese, fervent soccer fan that football complex is like that stage but not with protagonists the sublime performances by acclaimed tenors and sopranos but by football stars who donated satisfactions and joy to many fans of two prestigious Clubs of the city such as A.C. Milan and F.C Inter which together wrote unforgettable pages of history in one of the most loved sports in the globe winning all the most important trophies at national and international level.

Milan is an European city elevated as the world capital of fashion and design  which apart the several businesses related to marketing,merchandising, finance, graphic arts, publishing, engineering and economy which found fertile soil to increase their relevance is also a centre which lives of football with elegance but at the same time with passion and enthusiasm.

Today as yesterday if you visit some old popular neighbourhoods outside the glitzy and stylish big monumental historic centre of the eternally lively and bustling Milanese heart gravitating around the notorious "quadrilatero della moda"the fashion square in a place as San Siro that sophisticated and glamorous atmosphere is pretty overshadowed by the planet football absolute protagonist in that neighbourhood hosting in its boundaries national and international matches of high audience for many weeks during a year.

That is a very interesting cultural aspect and the same in many cases happens in other popular quarters such as Lorenteggio,Giambellino, Bovisa, Bullona or Barona where in several bars you can have a coffee or a drink and often listening conversations about A.C Milan and F.C Inter fans and obviously protagonist in those chats is also Giuseppe Meazza Stadium often presents in comments or simply mentioned for an episode or event which took place there.

 In San Siro district you can breathe a special atmosphere in which group of friends sitting in a cafe are talking with the iconic Gazzetta dello Sport, that famous daily newspaper dedicated to sport founded in Milan on 3rd April 1896 on a table and in many of those usual meeting points  you can find pictures of celebrated champions of the past, present posters of the teams including some little pennants or a picture depicting the glorious Stadium.


Today some of those cafes and bars loyal to the spirit of trendy renovation in terms of furniture and layouts mutated something but what did not change is the historic rivalry of those two emblematic Football Institutions transmitted live by their fans also in those places which have always generated chats among a coffee,a drink or a typical "aperitivo" waiting for impatiently the Derby at the iconic Giuseppe Meazza, a match which turns on a city celebrated in a place unique in its kind.


Many are the anecdotes in that district linked to stories of football lived in daily life, someone often jokes preparing on papers numbers of the final result putting them on the windows of the car windows of a friend or there is the funny idea to create slogans if a Club wins the two derbies during the season, preparing something of hilarious linked to the number 0 and 2 which are also the phone code of the city.

In that case the fan of the team which lost will receive messages with those numbers as "Forget the football and the Meazza and think about your Holidays" or "Game over at San Siro" or also "And now months of silence waiting for cloistered the next season before tp return to Giuseppe Meazza Stadium" and much more.

 All that is part of a genuine funny game and that emblematic stadium has its relevant part. Someone in the past included  wrote and painted with the colours of the winner on walls very close to the complex with a painted message "This is our temple" next to a large draw related to the most iconic mythology depicting a Hellenic temple with the symbols of Attica reminiscent the times of the glorious Athens. 


 For several fans is also a satisfaction in a morning during a breakfast immediately the day after the match to  tease a friend on Monday at the bus stop going to work starting the week after a victory approaching with a phrase like .."When will you go next time to watch a matchto  the Stadium ? in 2 years or anymore ?"


Including you will see taxi drivers calling a colleague  placed on the other side of a road showing with the finger the number of the final result of the derby played at San Siro.

 There are many other anecdotes probably thousands but apart that Milan is a great city which has always lived in a very complete and elegant fair play the rivalry between the two sides.


The football philosophy in that city between the fans of those two prestigious clubs certainly  divides people for the love of the the colours in which they identify themselves but never reached (except in very sporadic cases) a bad exasperation or particular tensions in Milan because it is a football game and everything ends in laughter and a cup of coffee together at the bar.

San Siro, the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium is simply something special. Assisting to a football event in that complex is like to be in one of the most enchanting plateaus with a perfect vision, no athletic track, barriers, distances, once there all is simply magic to live a day of sport inside that imposing structure with the show immediately performed beneath the eyes of the spectator.

That site has always been protagonist of unforgettable and historic matches in which all the most glorious players of the history delighted with their performances millions of fans and a place in which every young footballer dreams to play one day.

The construction of the stadium started in 1925 with a design of the engineers Ulisse Stacchini and Alberto Cugini supported by the former A.C. Milan President Piero Pirelli and it was inaugurated on 19th September 1926 celebrating in that day a friendly match with protagonists  the two clubs of the city and in that time it had a capacity of 35,000 spectators.

The Club A.C. Milan owned the complex starting to play its matches there while the F.C. Inter to keep and preserve with pride its tradition and history continued for long time in its beloved Arena, Civica a historic Stadium situated at a short distance from Sforza Castle and Parco Sempione, Simplon Park until 1947.
 
In those years the "Nerazzurri" the Black and Blue Club considered San Siro as the home of the historic rival and it was better to continue to play in its stronghold, including for many fans of the F.C Inter was not a good idea to share a new stadium with the "enemy" impossible to think and believe but after years it happened although someone did not appreciate that decision at all.

In 1935 the Stadium was purchased by the City Council with an enlargement managed by the architects Perlasca and Bertera with works ended in 1939 increasing the capacity to 55,000 people. 

In 1955 there was the construction of the upper ring following a project of the architects Ferruccio Calzolari and Armando Ronca and after that operation the former San Siro stadium reached a capacity of 90,000 spectators reduced seven year later to 82,000 for safety reasons while in 1967 was added the electronic scoreboard.

The 70's were highlighted by the replacement of the lighting system, in 1979 was completed the second top ring while just one year later in 1980 it was titled to Giuseppe Meazza. 

In 1986 were added seats on the second ring taking reducing after those works the capacity to 76,400 spectators.In 1990 in occasion of the World Cup celebrated in Italy took place the construction of the third upper ring a work by Edilnord led by the architect Giancarlo Ragazzi, the new capacity was of 85,700 spectators with the stadium totally covered showing a very modern and trendy image.

In 1996 the Museum Museo del Calcio, the football museum was inaugurated while in 2002 was opened a restaurant and 50 Sky Box consisting in small apartments providing TV satellite and restaurant service.

Other operations were managed not a long time ago in 2006  when the entrance of the players on the pitch was moved  beneath the central grandstand and in 2008 the old seats were all replaced by new modern models with a new capacity consisting in 82, 995 seats reduced to 81,977 in 2012 following the new UEFA regulations and all that is part of the major chronological stages of that glorious sanctuary of football.   
 
Giuseppe Meazza is the name of the Stadium in honour of one of the most awarded champions of the history of Italian and International football, winner of two editions of the World Cup in 1934 and 1938 with many titles conquered with FC Inter and well known worlwide in that time.

He was a talented star, considered an universal player who could play in different positions such as striker, central forward, attacking midfield and he ended his career also playing as play maker midfield.


Urban legends said that footballer was able to dribble all the opponents starting from a penalty area reaching the other crossing the entire pitch, constantly attacking the spaces and playing with an enormous facility at one touch, launching the ball to a team mate situated at 60,0 metres of distance with a kind of ball which was not in those times that one used today in terms of weight and materials.

For many Italians and foreign experts of football who saw him playing he was considered a divine master, a  champion able to win a match alone in 10 minutes,a leader, a super talented footballer, idol and an example to imitate by every young player starting his career.

Apart those immense skills and qualities, Meazza was also considered a  Gentleman never looking for polemics or troubles, loved by team mates, managers  extremely admired and respected by rivals,beloved by ordinary people and according to historic information he was apart a great player a great man always honouring the rival after a defeat.

Born and bread in Milan,"Peppino" how was nicknamed in a familiar way, the nick means little Giuseppe despite he was not small and also "Balilla" another nickname which was given him by a Hungarian coach called Árpád Weisz meaning boy in a period a word in use during the times in which Italy was living the period linked to the regime of Mussolini.



Meazza started to play in F.C. Inter youth teams when he was very young playing 13 professional official seasons with that Sporting Institution but after that he also wore the jersey of the A.C Milan from 1940 to 1942 something that many fans of the "nerazzurri" in that period never forgiven him for that change of colours.

That player was considered an emblematic symbol of the Club with the black and blue colours,the former Ambrosiana Inter, historical denomination took to pay homage to the Saint Patron of Milan, Sant'  Ambrogio, St. Ambrose.


Apart the two World Cups won in which in one was named  best player of the competition that classical and creative player  also won the International Cup in two occasions, a competition which was a sort of former European Cup.

 In that period did not exist that competition so was organised a trophy played by the National Teams of Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland and Italy considered in that time the best in Europe behind  England, the country which invented that sport.


That Cup was also called Antonin Svehla Cup and the winning team was invited to play a match against the English called in that period the Masters of Football.

In a match which took place on 14th November 1934 at Highbury, London with protagonists England vs Italy with victory of the first with the result of 3-2, Meazza scored the two goals for the Italian team impressing all the British press and rivals who considered him a sort of genius.

In those years did not exist not the famous Golden Ball that prestigious trophy which awards every season the best footballer oin the world but for many experts that champion could win that trophy several times.

The stadium took the name Giuseppe Meazza on 2nd March 1980 after the death of the unforgettable champion one year before in 1979 honouring a magnificent,unique player and man.


That iconic complex is something special,many champions of the distant, recent past and present have always commented something about that site including the Brazilian star Edson Arantes do Nascimento alias  Pelé who played in that stadium  a friendly match and for him was a unique emotion to play in that temple.

Also many others such as Van Basten, Matthaus, Baggio,Ronaldo, Figo, Shevchenko,  all them awarded with the golden ball and who played in that  complex wearing the jerseys of the two Milan city clubs never forgot the matches and the seasons played in that icon of football.

Alessandro Del Piero former F,C. Juventus star has frequently declared that playing at Giuseppe Meazza Meazza is always a  honour while another famous champion as Francesco Totti player and captain of AS Roma said that to score a goal in that stadium is simply special and an emotion you do not feel in other places.

Another famed figure as José Mourinho, Portuguese former F.C. Inter Manager declared in more than a occasion that Giuseppe Meazza Stadium is his home and the most beautiful place to play at home a game.

Once inside the Scala del Calcio many distinguished players confessed that coming on that pitch generated them special vibrations,unique sensations and in some cases also flickering and tremors...That is San  Siro-Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in all its essence and in all what it transmits.

The Times, famous British national newspaper based in London in 2009 awarded the Giuseppe Meazza as the second most beautiful stadium in the world.

Also music dedicated a sort of hymn to that glorious complex. A famous Italian singer and song-writer Roberto Vecchioni dedicated it a a song with the title Luci a San Siro, Lights at San Siro and some Italian film directors have used San Siro-Giuseppe Meazza to shoot some scenes of movies.
 
The entrance tunnel which leads to the pitch which was once situated in a corner beneath a curve and nowadays in a more central location, the frame of the public present in every match or event with the lights in an evening match create an atmosphere which is simply fascinating.

The magic aura surrounding the Meazza with its modern and majestic architectural silhouette from above at first sight it is like a big brilliant star and shimmering star magnificent are some images taken from Satellites and Helicopters which immortalised that place place unique in its kind.

With a surface of 106,0 x 68,0 metres that Stadium hosted matches of World Cup,  Cup, European Cup, Champions League, Intercontinental Cup but also important concerts of famed rock and pop stars and it is enough to mention The Rolling Stones,Bob Dylan,Bob Marley, Genesis, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and U2  among many others.

Including the famous All Blacks, the famous New Zealand Rugby National Team had the honour and the emotion to play in that glorious complex of Milan and some players after an interview said a simple word .."Fantastic".

The huge square called Piazzale Angelo Moratti immediately outside that imposing structure is dedicated to the glorious F.C. Inter President of the 60's when he led the Club which won everything in those years and the idea to develop that large space was created thanks to a project which had the support of the Magnate Pirelli the King of the pneumatics.

That great place offers the visitors the opportunity to visit and enjoy a special museum Il Museo del Calcio (The football museum) dedicated to the two Clubs of Milan narrating all their epic stages and making it a great historic window for all football fans but also for tourists who want to see something of special.

 The exhibition displays memorabilia and historic documentations, ,trophies of those two legendary Sporting Institutions all it is perfectly arranged to permit the visitors and fans to folow the historic step by step of the great champion as Giuseppe Meazza who played for the two clubs.

The history of A,C. Milan is well represented showing in spaces protagonists the teams of the 50's and 60's paying homage to celebrated stars of that period such as Juan Alberto Schaffino, Niels Liedholm, Gunnar Nordhal Gunnar Gren,Cesare Maldini and a one of the symbols of the Club, Gianni Rivera golden ball in 1969.

That player wrote important pages of the history of the club in the 60's and 70's in the team which had as coach Nereo Rocco and other prominent figures of the international football panorama such as José Altafini, Angelo Benedicto Sormani,Fabio Cudicini, Piero Prati, Roberto Rosato and Karl Heinz Schnellinger among others.(it was the time in which the club started to use Milanello as sporting centre in the case you desire to read something I wrote a post about that if you you are interested)


For all those who remember the "rossoneri" at the end the 80's and 90's  that Museum permits also to see memories of the history of A.C. Milan which won practically everything with the coaches Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello.

The visitor can admire the glorious successes in those periods which had as main stars acclaimed champions such as Franco Baresi, Marco Van Basten, Paolo Maldini, Frank Rijkaard,Ruud Gullit, Roberto Donadoni,Carlo Ancelotti, Daniele Massaro and later Dejan Savicevic, Marcel Desailly, Alessandro Costacurta, Demetrio Albertini and Zvonimir Boban among many others.

For who is younger the history continues with the team as the mentioned Ancelotti as manager with other champions such as Andriy Shevchenko, Alessandro Nesta, Rui Costa, Andrea Pirlo ,Clarence Seedorf and Cafu among others. 

 For all people who prefers the colours of F.C. Inter or simply learning more about the history of that other Club since its foundation as Ambrosiana Inter, Giuseppe Meazza Museum also narrates the times of the old stars Lennart Skoglund, Benito Lorenzi and Istvan Nyers in the 50's.


The history follows with the the team of the "Mago" Helenio Herrera that histrionic coach who led the team of the great Inter President Angelo Moratti in the 60's to dominate the International football scene.

During the visit you will see the stages of that emblematic team which included famed champions such as as Mario Corso, Luis Suarez, Sandro Mazzola, Giacinto Facchetti, Tarcisio Burgnich,Jair da Costa and Giuliano Sarti among others.

That squad won all in Italy, Europe and in the World in those magic years,  a history which partially continued to win also in the early 70's adding to that historic group another famed player as the excellent striker Roberto Boninsegna.

For those who remember the 80's is cited the team of the Coach Eugenio Bersellini with Ivano Bordon, Alessandro Altobelli, Evaristo Beccalossi and the "German"Inter" of  the Coach Giovanni Trapattoni with Lothar Matthaus, Andreas Brehme, Jurgen Klinsmann but also with protagonists Walter Zenga, Giuseppe Bergomi, Riccardo Ferri, Giuseppe Baresi and Ramon Diaz among others.


Naturally it is also presents the cycle of the Club led by the President Massimo Moratti, son of Angelo which had in its squads other prominent figures such as Ronaldo, Diego Simeone, Yuri Djorkaeff, Gianluca Pagliuca,Ivan Zamorano and narrated are the triumphs of the coach Roberto Mancini with Francesco Toldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sebastian Cambiasso, Douglas Maicon, Luis Figo, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Walter Samuel and Ivan Ramiro Cordoba.

A section is also dedicated to  the winning team led by Jose Mourinho with some of those previously mentioned players more Diego Milito, Samuel E'Too, Wesley Sneijder with another legend of the Club the former Captain Javier Zanetti also protagonist in the successes with the previous manager and today vice-president of the Club.


A visit to Giuseppe Meazza -San Siro is absolutely something special.It is not a simple stadium all there is great and captivating and the view of that impressive architectural structure,the pitch, the museum,the history of two legendary Clubs symbols of a city is highly fascinating.

Definitely the visit of that glorious sanctuary of football is a great experience for everyone for adults and children with the chance to admire the shirts,the stories and the successes of the Clubs, images of distinguished champions remembering years of great football the city of Milan and its iconic Stadium offers the visitors.

It is very easy to reach Giuseppe Meazza Stadium by tube taking the Red Line M1.From the historic centre if you are in Duomo,Cordusio,Cadorna,Cairoli stations you have to take trains in direction Rho Fiera and in about 20 minutes you will be at Piazzale Lotto and then a pleasant walk and exciting walk along the mentioned Via Caprilli with the view of that distinctive place.

There are also local Travel Agencies organising City Tour and Giuseppe Meazza Stadium visit.If you are a sport fan, fond of football or simply with the curiosity to visit and discover something unique in Milan during a stay in the most important city of Lombardy and 2nd centre of Italy or if you are planning in future a trip to Milan that is suggested site.

That visit of a place full of glory linked to the history of the most popular sport in the world is something really special to enjoy and in its kind a unique experience to remember forever.

Francesco Mari


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