Is there any better way to plan a vacation than to plan it around a tennis tournament? We had wanted to vacation in Italy for years. In our then-careers, we were never able to take more than a week off – this time we stretched it to 10 days. And we timed it all so that we’d land in Rome, and get to attend the Internazionali BNL d’Italia (or Italian Open).
We’d both been to Rome before, granted years before and separately. So we’d seen the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and the ruins of the Forum. This time, we were here to see some tennis before we traveled further north.
Our red-eye flight from Toronto touched down early on the Friday morning. Anytime we land from a red-eye flight on vacation, we try to make use of the day rather than collapsing in our hotel room and sleeping. It’s the best way to minimize the jet lag.
Bright and early on Saturday morning, we took the subway and then walked to the tennis grounds. It’s a bit of a hike from the core of Rome, but once you get there the grounds are unquestionably Italian.
Roman statues line the walkways and Stadio Nicola Pietrangeli resembles a Roman amphitheatre. Even the food in the canteens was good, and you could wash it down with a small bottle of wine or a glass of dry prosecco – Magnifico!
Since we were there on the semi-finals day, there wasn’t much happening outside the main stadium. Our tickets were in the upper bowl, but front row. This was great from the perspective of leg room and ease of access, but they do have a glass railing that reaches to about eye-level when sitting down, negatively impacting the view at times.
We were lucky enough to watch Serena – Halep, back when Halep was really just starting to break out, Nadal – Berdych (Nadal was the defending champion), and Errani – Azarenka (Christine’s favourite tennis player). It was an amazing line-up for a day of tennis. Watching the Italian Errani play in Italy, especially as she was a defending French Open finalist, was amazing. The crowd was definitely behind their countrywoman. Too bad Vika Azarenka handed her a beat down.
As a first outside-North-America tournament for us (other than when Trevor went to Wimbledon in 2003/2004), the Italian Open checked all the boxes. Good location, great facilities, and top players. Not that you needed any more excuses to visit Rome, but this tournament is a great reason to visit in May.
The grounds are beautiful, and have a lot of Italian character. The main stadium feels intimate for the size, with great views from any seat.
Admittedly, we’re writing this well after the fact. There were basic, affordable food options, but it was nothing memorable. Wine and sparkling wine were easy to find though, as you’d expect in Italy 😉