An hour or so south-east of Rome, Frosinone attracts few casual visitors – except when the local football club surprises the rest of Italy by gaining promotion to Serie A, as has happened twice in recent seasons.
As a rare club in Italy who own their own stadium, Frosinone Calcio may not stay long in the top tier but their potential is far greater than similar fly-by-nights who quickly sink back down to Serie B.
And for most of the last century, Frosinone could barely dream of Serie B.
The successors of Unione Sportiva Frusinate formed in 1912, only knew regionalised football until the accession of Frosinone Calcio to the second flight in 2006. Known as I Ciociari, after this part of Lazio, Ciociaria, Frosinone have gone through six configurations in all, collectively spending an entire history pre-2006 in the lower reaches of the Italian game.
After US Frusinate spent a decade playing occasional friendly matches, the first real football team in town was Bellator Frusino. Playing in red and blue, Bellator made the third tier in the mid-1930s but failed to survive in the political climate of the time, the Fascio Giovanile di Combattimento Frosinone taking their place.
Also in place, though, was a communal stadium in the classic mould of the Mussolini era. Known by all after 1945 as the Stadio Matusa, this would be the home of football in Frosinone, post-war residential blocks springing up around it.
Here, Unione Sportiva Frosinone, Associazione Sportiva Frosinone, Sporting Club Frosinone and, from 1990, today’s Frosinone Calcio played post-war in Serie C and D or equivalents.
Expanded to nearly 10,000 capacity when Frosinone Calcio gained promotion to Serie B in 2006, the Stadio Matusa soon hosted an Under-21 international, back then a rare honour sadly not reflected in the excitement generated when the Czech Republic held Italy to a 0-0 draw.
It sits on via Marittima, the main street that leads up from the train station way south of town, to the centre. Rising steeply above the narrow river Cosa is the historic centre of Frosinone, a warren of winding streets and pretty churches. Negotiating town is hard work – local buses are few and far between.
The modern stadium built to replace the Matusa, the Stadio Benito Stirpe, is at least reasonably close to the train station – handy if you’re only there for the day. In the pipeline since the 1980s, the construction of the Benito Stirpe was given impetus by Frosinone’s rise to Serie A in 2015 – although it was only unveiled in 2017.
Named after a club president from the 1960s, the stadium was overseen by his son and successor, Maurizio, also a football league administrator.
Almost immediately, it began to host Italy Under-21 internationals, the facilities, proximity to Rome and Stirpe’s boardroom influence bringing first Russia, then Croatia here.
As for domestic fixtures, the 16,000 capacity filled with an average gate of 12,000-plus in 2018-19. Half-financed by the municipality, overall the Benito Stirpe bodes well for football’s future in Frosinone.
Rome Ciampino is the nearest airport, 79km (49 miles) north-west of Frosinone. Some 12km (7.5 miles) south-east of Rome, it’s served by several bus companies – the stops are immediately outside the small terminal as you exit. SIT Bus Shuttle and Terravision run roughly every 30min-1hr and take 45min to reach Roma Termini station, charging €5-€6 single, €9 return. A taxi to the station has a fixed price of €30.
Alternatively, a new Ciampino Airlink operated by Trenitalia involves a bus (every 30min-1hr) from the airport to Ciampino town station, then a train to Termini, overall journey time 40min, price €2.70.
From Termini, a train (€5) runs every 30min to 1hr or so to Frosinone and takes 1hr or 1hr 30min. Sundays, it’s every 1-2hrs.
Frosinone station is south of town, walking distance to the stadium but a fair stretch from the city centre. Local buses are run by GEAF, tickets €1 from tobacconists in bars – but services are infrequent and unreliable. Be prepared for long walks.
Based at the train station, Taxi Frosinone Marco Carlacci (+39 334 228 0597) offers airport transfers.
There is no information resource, digital or over-the-counter, for visitors to Frosinone.
As there is no lodging in the immediate vicinity of the stadium, and the city centre is a fair trek, the best place to base yourself maybe on the main road between the two, via Marittima. Here, next to each other, are two simple and affordable B&Bs, Il Rio and Luisa, above S1mone, a bar/pizzeria with football on TV. If Frosinone still played at the old ground, these would be perfect. As it stands, it’s a 15-20min walk to the Stadio Benito Stirpe, 10min to town, up the main road later lined with bars and restaurants. Note that you have to phone to re-confirm at Il Rio – it only has four rooms, two singles, two doubles and they go awfully fast.
Of the precious few hotels, the Astor is at a junction of two main roads, close to the town centre but a taxi journey from the stadium. It’s a solid three-star with a 24hr reception – the restaurant allows it to offer half-board deals. On the other side of the stadium from town, a 15min walk south of the station, the Hotel Testani is a sleek, contemporary three-star with a popular trattoria. Ideal if you’re travelling to/from Rome on the nearby A1 motorway, with plenty of parking space, it’s a fair way from the centre of town. Behind it, B&B Lady G is equally neat, mini-apartments offered for €60 including breakfast.
In the Old Town, the old-school Garibaldi dates back to 1886 when it was the first in Frosinone. Though the rooms are similarly old-school, the restaurant has wonderful views of the surrounding countryside from this elevated vantage point. Close to the historic centre, right by St Elizabeth Church, B&B Macalitte (via Vincenzo Ferrarelli 4) offers affordable, comfortable lodgings overseen by the friendly Germano (+39 380 374 5040).
Off the winding street leading from the Old Town to the modern-day centre B&B Il Roseto offers chintzy rooms at knockdown prices.
Saturday night in Frosinone sees teenagers swarm around the bar hub at the top of via Aldo Moro, close to the junction of piazzale de Matheis. A few can actually afford a drink, so join the grown-ups watching the game at unpretentious Il Bucchetto (No.353) or, more likely, Shake, aiming for upscale status, another calcio-gawping option. Opposite, the Caffè Moro at No.182 has a huge screen.
Further down towards the stadium, the Caffè Grande (via Marittima 262) is a handy spot if you’re staying at the B&Bs nearby.
While these are convenient, the only real bar worth making a beeline for is the evening-only Birracolo, a revered haven of sought-after beers and TV calcio, with a savvy clientele. You’ll find it at via Firenze 30, just past the southern tip of the Old Town. Close by, the Bar Code is a trendy spot by day and popular Elleti shows games and stages occasional live music.
Further north around the Old Town, the Bar Tucci is a local landmark that recently celebrated 60 years of serving fine local wines – it also sells Frosinone tickets. The nearby Antico Bar Ambrosetti also provides a taste of old-school Italy.
The nearest thing to a pub is probably Penelope, set back from via Tiburtina, close to the Astor Hotel. TV football can be accompanied by German beers on draught and quality pizza. The other option is Galloway on via Berna, just off main via dei Monti Lepini, open from 7pm, with plenty of screens, plus beer and food choices.
For a quick drink near the station, the Bar B&J at via Don Minzoni 53 fills on calcio Sundays while round the corner, La Locanda dei Sapori dresses up on match days, serving regulars fine local cuisine.