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Sferisterio Tours

The small mountain town of Macerata is home to one of the most unique outdoor venues in Italy: the Sferisterio, a neoclassical stadium built at the beginning of the 19th century to host matches of pallone col bracciale, Italy’s most popular sport for more than 500 years. Today, the stadium hosts the Sferisterio Opera Festival.

The Basics

Opera and architecture enthusiasts can’t do better than an evening at the Sferisterio to take in a performance during Macerata’s opera festival. Book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment, as this festival—founded in 1921 and, after a hiatus, held annually since the 1980s—is popular for lovers of opera in Italy.

Stagings in the Sferisterio are memorable as much for the venue as for the performance. Three thousand opera fans can gather inside the long and narrow space, which features 33-foot- (10-meter-) long wings on either side of the stage and a double row of boxes separated by 56 neoclassical columns. For an in-depth look at the stadium, join an “aperitivo” experience of light dinner and drinks before the show to take in the architecture and pre-performance preparations from the upper balcony.

Things to Know Before You Go

  • Dress casually but nicely for evening performances, and bring a light jacket as it tends to be chilly in this mountain town.
  • Only some seats are accessible to wheelchair users.
  • Though Sferisterio Opera Festival is less famous than festivals in Verona or the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, tickets can sell out quickly.
  • The piazza outside the Sferisterio is lined with cafés, perfect for a drink or snack before the performance.

How to Get There

The Sferisterio is located in the center of Macerata, a small mountain town in the Apennines of Le Marche that is best reached by car from the Adriatic coast or the hilltowns of Umbria.

When to Get There
The Sferisterio Opera Festival runs each summer from mid-July to mid-August. Popular and jazz musicians also perform at the Sferisterio during the summer months.

The Sferisterio Opera Festival
The Sferisterio Opera Festival was founded in 1921, and though the original festival was eventually suspended, the current celebration of opera and classical music has been held since the late 1980s. The festival attracts world-class performers despite its setting far from the tourist track. Performances include crowd-pleasing classics with updated stagings and more obscure works for the serious fan.
Address: Piazza Nazario Sauro, Macerata, Marche 62100, Italy
Admission: Varies
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