The rise of Frosinone Calcio is a very recent phenomenon. Promoted to Serie A twice in three seasons, most recently in 2018, the flagship club representing the modest community of Frosinone owes much of its recent success to its president, Maurizio Stirpe. Administrator in the worlds of football and industry, Stirpe built Frosinone’s new stadium, naming it after his father and previous club president, Benito.
Meanwhile, the Mussolini-era ground abandoned since 2017, the Stadio Matusa near the city centre, is used for urban recreation.
It was here that various Frosinone teams played from 1932 onwards – first Bellator Frusino, then Unione Sportiva Frusinate, AS Frosinone and SC Frosinone, mainly playing in the third and fourth tiers.
By the time today’s Frosinone Calcio came into existence in 1990, the new club had to start in the fifth tier, the Campionato Interregionale. Frosinone struggled to find their feet until Maurizio Stirpe and a consortium of local entrepreneurs took over in 2003. Pipping Brindisi by one point, I Ciociari won immediate promotion from Serie C2 then only needed two seasons to reach Serie B. Journeyman and ex-Italy Under-21 international striker Ciro Ginestra scored the goals that kept Frosinone in the hunt behind recently bankrupt Napoli. A solitary goal against Grossetto, the only one in four play-off matches, lifted I Ciociari to the new heights of the second flight.
Mid-table for three seasons, Frosinone were rarely outclassed even when relegated in 2010-11, a season when they did the double over Torino. That same campaign, striker Roberto Stellone, who had appeared more than 200 times for Napoli, Genoa and Torino, saw out his playing career at the Stadio Matusa then made the step up as team coach.
Under Stellone, Frosinone achieved two promotions in as many seasons, the shock rise to Serie A in 2015 granting him, and his squad, honorary citizenship of the town. Top goalscorer Federico Dionisi had arrived from Olhanense just in time – and would continue to score in Serie A, in rare wins, over Empoli, Sampdoria and Verona. Strike partner Daniel Ciofani also notched nine league goals – but the worst defensive record in the division saw Frosinone relegated after a single season.
Stellone headed for Bari, though Dionisi and Ciofani stayed at the Stadio Matusa, though a late goal by visitors Carpi put paid to a quick return in the subsequent promotional play-off in May 2017.
Playing initial home games in Avellino while the new Stadio Benito Stirpe was being built, Frosinone notched useful wins over Bari and Cittadella before a goalless draw with Cremonese in front of a 13,000 crowd ushered in a new era in an all-seated arena. Late equalisers by Empoli, Cesena and, crucially, Foggia, kept I Ciociari from an automatic promotion place. Foggia’s came in the 89th minute in the last league match of the regular season – in front of a then record crowd at the Benito Stirpe.
It required a 96th-minute goal from Camillio Ciano to push Frosinone past Palermo in the second leg of the promotion play-off, again before a near full house.
Back in Serie A for the second time in August 2018, Frosinone only managed one win before February – though late winners by Ciofani helped I Ciociari register unexpected wins over Parma and Fiorentina in April.
The Stadio Benito Stirpe was known for many years as the Stadio Casaleno – years in which the stadium wasn’t even built. With blueprints created in the 1970s and foundations a decade later, this ground south-west of town lay unfinished until club president Maurizio Stirpe saw the project through, honouring his father Benito at the same time.
The Benito Stirpe was unveiled two months into Frosinone’s successful campaign to return to Serie A in 2017-18. Most importantly, though, this is only the third stadium in Italy, after Juventus and Udinese, to be owned by the host club.
An estimated €20 million, nearly half of it raised from the municipality, has created an all-seated ground of just over 16,000 capacity, the spectators close to the action with no running track to separate them from the pitch.
Nearly 4,000 Ciociari can fill the home end, the Curva Nord, nearest the car park, small shopping centre and main road dotted with pre-match bars.
Seats for just over 1,000 visiting supporters are ranged over the corner between the Curva Sud and Main Stand, aka Tribuna Ovest, nearest the indoor sports hall. Such is the fairly remote location of Frosinone that the Settore ospiti only gets proper use when Roma, Lazio or Napoli visit – or, when they were in Serie B, local rivals Latina.
Facing the Main Stand, the Tribuna Est holds almost a third of the overall capacity.
There may well be a bus stop on main via Armando Fabi near the stadium, indicating route Nos.5C, 8 and 11, but these have little bearing on reality or any timetable.
The quickest way from the station or town to the stadium is to walk. Off the train, walk straight up via Don Minzoni from the station then second left along via Pietro Mascagni, and right at the end, into via dei Monti Lepini to the roundabout – allow 15-20 minutes. From town, head down via Marittima to viale Europa, which leads to the roundabout, about 10-15 minutes away.
Once at the roundabout, head along via Armando Fabi to the car park and shopping centre – you may not see the dog-eared floodlights to guide you.
While charging a fair whack for admission in 2018-19, Frosinone have hardly gone out of their way to make advance ticket sales easy – there are no online purchases, just a few random outlets spread out across the Lazio region. In Frosinone itself, these include the Bar Tucci on via Minghetti up on the historic centre and an electronics store close to the town centre at via Aldo Moro 141. Neither opens on Sundays.
The pre-match ticket windows at the stadium are opposite the Caffè dello Stadio, pretty much the first thing you come to once you cross the car park. Take ID with you. Pretty much all seats in the Curva Nord or Sud (€30) are taken by season-ticket holders, so you’ll be laying out €50 for a sideline view from the Tribuna Est or €70-€120 in the Main Stand. There are reductions of 10%-15% for over-70s and 5-15s. For the visits of Inter, Milan, Juve, Napoli and Roma, prices increase by around €20-€30.
Just inside the gates into the stadium opposite the Caffè dello Stadio, the Frosinone Store (Mon-Fri 9.30am-12.30pm, 3.30pm-7pm, away-day Sat 9.30am-12.30pm) is a modest little operation selling replica shirts of canary yellow, or white with blue-and-yellow trim for the second-choice kit.
Note that on home match days, the store opens at 9.30am but closes at kick-off. For an evening game, it’s 9.30am-12.30pm, then 3.30pm to kick-off.
Scarves are also sold by street traders along via Armando Fabi.
A number of bars dot the main route to the stadium, the noisiest fans packing out the Caffè Ceccarelli just before the roundabout at viale Europa 50. You’ll just about find room on the busy terrace – note the stickers for Über Alles, Frosinone’s ultras crew.
Nearer the stadium just the other side of the roundabout, the Caffè Vivaldi is another popular pre-match haunt, but for an older, more sedate crowd, with a grill station outside. There’s another at Caffè Spaziani (via Armando Fabi 35), with football on TV within.
On the other side of the road, fronted by a table-football table, the Avion Bar is a lovely family-run spot, the bar manned by a seen-it-all Frosinone man who played for the club back in the 1960s – he’ll point himself out on the Beatles-era team line-up photo. The side room is for diners and those watching calcio on TV.
After negotiating the porchetta vans and scarf stalls, your walk through the car park will bring you to the Caffè dello Stadio opposite the ticket office. Unsurprisingly busy on match days, it comprises a neat, standard Italian bar, with a side area featuring old terrace seating and a back room decked out in photos of sporting heroes, each with a TV is tuned to football. Outside, there are more tables on the terrace and a popular grill station in the yard. Perfect, in fact, for any calcio Sunday.