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Sport and Fitness

Italy - Sport and Fitness

Most Italians live a relatively healthy and active lifestyle, but it is only a small section of the population that participates in professional sports. Despite this, the country has produced an impressive list of champions in various sports from soccer to cycling. In the field of athletics too, Italians have been prominent in the Olympics, with medals being won in various spheres, from archery and fencing to diving and skiing.

Soccer or football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the country, and this should be no surprise as the country’s soccer team is highly rated and has consistently performed well at the international level. The Italian soccer team has won the coveted World Cup on four occasions, the most recent being in 2006, making the Italian soccer team one of the most successful teams in the history of international soccer. Italians aren’t just fixated on soccer however, and there are plenty of other sports that are popular. Water polo, rugby, basketball, volley ball, tennis, cycling, wrestling and athletics are just a few of the other popular sports.

Italy’s basketball team has long been regarded as one of the best in the domestic league outside of the United States. It is one of the founding members of FIBA (International Federation of Basketball), and it has won four bronze and four silver medals, as well as two gold medals at the FIBA EuroBasket. Tennis is another popular sport in Italy, and the country has produced some of the finest tennis players like Paolo Bertolucci and Adriano Panatta.

Automobile racing may not be described as a “sport” in the typical sense, but it is a part of motor sports and it is extremely popular in Italy. The history of automobile racing is in fact closely tied to the country, with Italy being home to some of the leading automobile manufacturers and teams. Ferraris, which began to roll out in the 1940s, have broken many automobile records, and the Ferrari racing team has won over 5000 major races.

Golf is not the most popular of sports in Italy, and you won’t have much trouble getting into a golf club in the country. Italy has started to emerge as a good destination for golf enthusiasts, but the activity hasn’t caught on with most locals, since it tends to be associated with corporate and management employees who play golf to de-stress after spending the day or week at their high-powered job. There are many golf courses in picturesque settings across Italy, and most of them are located conveniently near major cities in the north. L’Albenza, Franciacort, Menaggio & Cadenabbia Golf Club and the Castelgandalfo Golf Club are among the best and most popular in Italy.

Skiing and snowboarding are some of the most popular sporting activities in Northern Italy, and the region has plenty of ski resorts. The Italian Alps and Dolomites are home to some of the biggest ski resorts, and the region attracts skiing enthusiasts from across the world. Some of the most popular ski resorts in Italy include the likes of Madonna di Campiglio, Passo Tonale, Cortina d’ Ampezzo and ?Sauze d’Oulx.

While there are plenty of gyms to be found in Italy, expats who choose to frequent one should be warned that the gym culture in Italy can be a bit of a shock. Gyms are not very popular in the conventional and global sense, but when available, they tend to be used by many as an avenue for socialising. Although there are some conscientious fitness enthusiasts, most of the patrons in a typical Italian gym are not too serious about getting rid of excess weight or even lifting weights. The biggest shock will probably be the lack of clothing. While one can’t fault the Italians for having a refreshingly healthy and positive body image, the casual nudity in locker rooms and changing rooms can be quite a culture shock for any outsider.

Italians are also strangely paranoid about catching the flu, and they worry about getting a chill from working out with air conditioning or from walking outdoors in sweat-soaked gym clothes. As a result, many Italian gyms tend to have no air conditioning, and most gym patrons carry a change of clothes to avoid walking home in sweat-soaked clothes.

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Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.