Six Nations Hospitality at Stadio Olimpico Stadium, the home of Italian Rugby
Italians are hooked on sport – look at their success on the football field.
And if their rugby team are not quite at that level they are nevertheless striving to get better … and gradually succeeding.
Expect the warmest of hospitality welcomes.
Also known as the Azzurri (Sky-Blues), Italy have been playing international rugby since 1929, and for decades were considered one of the best European teams outside the Five Nations Championship.
Italian rugby really came to prominence in 2000 when it was added to the Five Nations, creating the Six Nations.
Initially on the end of some heavy defeats, the side has grown in competitiveness, producing respectable results when playing at home in recent years.
During the 2011 Six Nations, the side defeated France 22-21, and in the 2013 Six Nations, Italy won again at home to France (23-18), and defeated Ireland 22-15.
Italy have also competed at every Rugby World Cup since the first tournament in 1987.
A standout player in the modern era has been the massive Sergio Parisse, considered a great No 8 and leader of his country.
Born in La Plata, Argentina, to Italian parents, his father, also Sergio, played for L’Aquila where he won the Italian Club Championships in 1967 before his job with airline Alitalia took him to Argentina in 1970. Sergio Junior was born in 1983 and played his early rugby for La Plata. His family spoke Italian at home and every year Sergio would go on holiday to Italy.
Parisse moved to Italy and Treviso where he played for four years. He then joined his Italian team mates Mauro Bergamasco and Mirco Bergamasco at French giants Stade Français in 2005.
He is noted for his famous passing skills. There is the behind the back pass, the pop-pass and passing the ball under his legs. Strong under the high ball, he is a powerful ball-carrier and excellent receiver in the line-out.
Parisse was Italian captain in the 2015 World Cup where he was joined by Mauro Bergamasco playing in his fifth World Cup.
An open-side flanker, Bergamasco’s versatility has seen him play a number of international games on the wing, and he once started at scrum-half in an infamously error-prone performance.
The skillful and stylish Tommaso Allan (or Tommy Allan) is another versatile player who can step in at fly-half, centre or fullback.
He hails from a rugby family. His Scottish father William Allan and his Italian mother Paola Berlato both played in Italy, while his uncle John Allan earned nine caps for Scotland. Through his father he was eligible to represent Scotland at senior level, but chose Italy.
There are more than 1,000 rugby clubs in Italy, supporting some 70,000-plus players, as well as over 8,000 female players.
Many teams are either from Veneto or Lombardy in the North, with the Po Valley seen as the heartland of Italian rugby centred on the likes of Treviso and Rovigo.
However rugby has not achieved a national presence, with large areas in southern Italy without any significant clubs.