Virtus basketball, Rome, ItalyMost people know that Italians really only have one true sport. Call it soccer, calcio, football. It’s all the Italians love.

Yes, when the Olympics roll around, Italians tend to do well in fencing, swimming and water polo. In the winter, the German minority in Italy’s Alto Adige region pile up the medals in skiing, but those are mere blips on the overriding national passion that is soccer.

Amidst this soccer frenzy, I was happy to finally discover another spectator sport in the Eternal City -basketball.

Virtus basketball, Rome, ItalyI recently took my kids to see Rome’s Virtus play against Avellino. But there are actually two Roman teams: Virtus Roma and Stella Azzurra.

We came early and watched the team warm up. Unlike soccer, it’s a very low-key environment, and fans generally behave well (alas, not always true at the soccer stadium across the Tiber).

Virtus plays at the Palazzetto dello Sport, in Rome’s Flaminio neighborhood. It can be reached easily by public transport. From the Flaminio metro stop, the #2 tram drops you off just outside the entrance.

It wasn’t a very good night for Roma Virtus, but it was a still a good game – and the kids and I had a lot of fun cheering on our home team. I’ll be happy to get back next season to see Virtus play. And I’ll enjoy the respite from Roman soccer to watch a sport I’ve always enjoyed more.

Enjoy basketball on your next visit to the Eternal City!