Asked to name the six most successful teams in Italian history, most fans would neglect to select Bologna. But with seven top-flight titles (not to mention seven runners-up spots), the Rossoblu (Red and blues) are topped only by Juventus, Inter, Milan, Genoa and Torino.
Trouble is, all but one of those titles came between 1925 and 1941. Their only scudetto in modern times came against catenaccio guru Helenio Herrera's
awesome Internazionale in a face-off for the 1964 title. The tension in
the build-up to the game was so great that Bologna president Renato
dall'Aria, the man who had masterminded the club's previous title wins,
dropped dead of a heart attack. Perhaps inspired by dall'Aria's memory, Bologna beat
Inter 2-0 – and later named their stadium after him.
success proved elusive in a variety of annoying ways. At their first two
attempts, Bologna went out on the toss of a coin before two exits on
away goals and one on penalties. More recently, the club suffered a narrow
defeat to Marseille in the 1999 UEFA Cup semi-final.
That ended a
topsy-turvy 1990s which included two seasons in Serie C1, and in truth that has been real story of Bologna's last 30 years: trying to stay in the top flight, not always successfully. But promotion in 2008 put them back among Italy's elite and two 17th-placed finishes since have kept them there – just.
The near-40,000-capacity Stadio Renato dall'Aria is west of Bologna centre, less
than a mile from Porta Sant'Isaia gate, on Via Andrea Costa. City bus 21
from the train station takes 15 minutes. It drops you at a traditional
skittles hall and bar, Bocciofila Stadio, by the ivy-clad ticket offices
facing the main entrance.
Home fans (including the ultras) head for the
Curva Andrea Costa, visitors for the Curva San Luca. Being within easy reach of Rome, Milan and Florence, Bologna entices
significant away support, creating a lively atmosphere at most matches. The Carisbo Bank
on Piazza Maggiore also sells advance tickets.
Club address Via Casteldebole, 10 - 40132, Bologna
Telephone 0039 051-611111
For regular updates on the crazy world of Italian football, see our blog Serie Aaaaargh!
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