most popular sports in Italy

Most Popular Sports in Italy: An Essential Guide

Interested in discovering the most popular sports in Italy? You’re in the right place. Our guide delves into everything from soccer to basketball, offering insights into Italy’s beloved sports.

With a sporting history that spans centuries, Italy’s robust and vibrant athletic culture is undeniable. The country boasts some of the world’s most renowned and captivating sports, ranging from football to cycling. Join us as we explore the most celebrated sports in Italy.

Football (Soccer) in Italy

playing soccer in Italy
Football (Soccer), the most popular sport in Italy.

Soccer, or football as it is known in Italy, is the most popular sport in the country. The Italian football team, known as Forza Azzurri, has won the FIFA World Cup four times, in 1934, 1938, 1982, and 2006. The team is considered one of the best in the world and has a passionate following.

In Italy, soccer is more than just a sport; it is a way of life. The Italian soccer league, Serie A, is one of the world’s most popular and competitive leagues in the world.

Some of the most famous Italian soccer teams include Inter Milan, AC Milan, and Juventus. These teams have a rich history and have produced some of the greatest players in the sport.

Top 10 Italian Football Legends Unveiled.

One of the most famous Italian soccer players is Paolo Maldini, who played for AC Milan for his entire career and won numerous titles, including seven UEFA Champions League titles.

Another legendary player is Roberto Baggio, who is considered one of the greatest Italian soccer players of all time. Fabio Cannavaro is also a well-known Italian soccer player who won the FIFA World Cup with Italy in 2006.

Soccer is not just a sport in Italy; it is also a source of entertainment and a popular subject for sports betting. Fans of Italian soccer are known for their passion and loyalty to their teams, and the sport has a huge following in the country.

Basketball in Italy

playing basketball in Italy

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Italy, and it has a rich history in the country.

The Lega Basket Series A is the top professional basketball league in Italy and was founded in 1920. The league consists of 18 teams from different Italian cities, and it is considered one of the major basketball leagues in Europe.

The Italian National Basketball Team is governed by the Italian Basketball Federation (FIP) and has a strong record in international competitions. The team has participated in the Olympics and Eurobasket and won several medals in these competitions.

Some of the most successful teams in the Lega Basket Serie A include Olimpia Milano and Virtus Bologna. Olimpia Milano has won 28 Italian championships, while Virtus Bologna has won 15 championships. These teams have also had success in European competitions, such as the EuroLeague.

Olimpia Milano clinches victory! Championship thriller against Virtus Bologna.

Basketball is a popular sport in Italy with a strong fan base. The games are often attended by passionate fans who support their favorite teams. The sport has also produced several talented players who have had success both in Italy and abroad.

Some of the most famous Italian basketball players include Danilo Gallinari, Marco Belinelli, and Andrea Bargnani. They have all made their mark in the NBA, with Belinelli even securing an NBA Championship and Bargnani being a former first-overall draft pick.

Volleyball in Italy

playing volleyball in Italy
Volleyball in Italy: ultimate blend of fun and athletic prowess.

Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in Italy. The Italian Volleyball League, also known as the Serie A1, is the top professional league for both men and women in the country. The league consists of 12 teams, with Trentino Volley and Lube Civitanova being the most successful teams in recent years.

Italian volleyball has a rich history of success at both the national and international levels. The Italian men’s team has won the World Championship three times, while the women’s team has won the European Championship six times.

Similarly, Italian club teams have also enjoyed success in European competitions, with Trentino Volley and Lube Civitanova both winning multiple Champions League titles.

Azzurre’s stellar moments: top plays at the Campionati Europei Volleyball.

Pallavolo, the Italian word for volleyball, is played at all levels in Italy, from amateur to professional. The sport is particularly popular in the country’s northern regions, where it is often played on outdoor courts in summer.

In addition to the professional league, there are numerous amateur and youth leagues nationwide. These leagues provide opportunities for players of all ages and skill levels to participate in the sport and improve their skills.

Rugby in Italy

playing rugby in Italy
Rugby’s raw power: a tackle that defines grit.

Rugby is a popular sport in Italy, although it is not as widely followed as soccer, which is the country’s most popular sport. The Italian national rugby union team has competed in the Rugby World Cup since 2000.

The sport is particularly popular in the small country towns in the Po Valley. Rugby enjoys a strong following up north, and the Italian national team regularly participates in the Rugby World Cup.

In addition, Italy participates in the Six Nations Championship, a yearly men’s rugby contest that includes teams from England, France, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales alongside Italy.

The highest tier in Italian professional male rugby is the Top10 league, which was formerly known as Top 12. The league is the most popular national competition in the country.

Italian rugby players also play for other European rugby clubs, such as those in the Aviva Premiership.

Cycling in Italy

cycling in Italy
Cycling in Italy: the ultimate endurance challenge unleashed.

As an avid cyclist myself, I can confidently say that cycling is one of the most popular sports in Italy. The country has a rich history in bicycle racing, with legendary riders such as Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Francesco Moser, and Vincenzo Nibali hailing from Italy.

The passion for cycling in Italy shines through the iconic Giro d’Italia race, numerous other cycling events, and the myriad cycling clubs and organizations nationwide.

Italy is home to some of the world’s most breathtaking cycling routes and climbs. The Dolomites/Alta Badia in Trentino is a popular destination for cyclists, with its UNESCO mountain scenery and roads made famous by the Giro d’Italia.

Relive the magic: Giro d’Italia 2023’s most unforgettable moments!

The Stelvio Pass, located in the Italian Alps, is another iconic cycling route that attracts cyclists from all over the world.

If you’re planning to cycle in Italy, planning your routes beforehand is important to make the most of your time. There are many resources available online, including detailed guides to cycling routes that have been tried and tested.

It’s also important to note that cycling in Italy can be challenging, with steep climbs and narrow roads, so it’s essential to be prepared and have the necessary equipment.

The Italian Cycling Federation oversees all aspects of cycling in Italy, including road racing, track racing, and mountain biking.

Motorsports in Italy

As a country with a rich history in motorsports, Italy has produced some of the world’s most influential motor racing cars and drivers. Motorsports is a popular sport in Italy, and it has a long and storied history.

Auto Racing in Italy

the iconic Ferrari Formula One
Pure elegance in motion: Ferrari’s iconic mastery on display.

One of the most iconic names in Formula One racing is Scuderia Ferrari. Established in 1948, this team stands as the oldest active squad in Grand Prix history.

Over the years, Ferrari has cemented its legacy as the most triumphant team in Formula One, boasting 16 Constructors’ Championships and 15 Drivers’ Championships. Beyond the F1 circuit, Ferrari has also showcased its racing prowess with nine victories at the esteemed 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is another testament to Italy’s significant imprint on auto racing. Located proximate to the city of Monza, near Milan, this renowned racetrack is celebrated for its blistering straights and high-speed corners.

With its inaugural race in 1922, Monza has a rich heritage, most notably hosting the Italian Grand Prix annually since 1950, barring a single exception.

Motorcycle Racing in Italy

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi: the legend of motorcycle racing in one frame.

Italy has also given rise to some of the world’s best motorcycle racers.

Valentino Rossi, one of the most famous Italian motorcycle racers, has won nine Grand Prix World Championships, with seven of those in the premier class. Another renowned figure, Giacomo Agostini, clinched 15 Grand Prix World Championships between 1966 and 1975.

The Mugello Circuit, nestled in the Tuscan hills, stands out for its scenic beauty and challenging layout. It has been the chosen venue for the Italian motorcycle Grand Prix since 1991 and has also hosted the Italian Grand Prix on multiple occasions.

In conclusion, from Scuderia Ferrari to Valentino Rossi, Italy has showcased its prowess in motorsports through its influential drivers and teams.

Winter Sports in Italy

As a country with a diverse geography, Italy offers a range of winter sports activities for both locals and tourists. Skiing is one of Italy’s most popular winter sports, and the country has hosted the Winter Olympic Games twice in Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956 and Turin in 2006.

Alpine Skiing

alpine skiing in Italy
Speed and precision: the fierce descent of racing captured.

Alpine skiing is the most popular form of skiing in Italy, and the country has produced several world-famous skiers, including Alberto Tomba, Deborah Compagnoni, and Isolde Kostner.

Tomba, known as the “Tomba la Bomba,” won three Olympic gold medals and two World Championships in the 1980s and 1990s. Compagnoni, on the other hand, won three gold medals in the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics and five World Championships between 1993 and 1997.

Kostner won three Olympic medals and four World Championship medals between 1994 and 2001.

Other Winter Sports

playing ice hockey in Italy
Edge of impact: hockey’s grit and power in a single frame.

Apart from skiing, Italy also offers other winter sports activities, including ice hockey, ice skating, and snowboarding. Bobsled is also a popular winter sport in Italy, with several tracks available in the country.

Cross-country skiing is also available in Italy for those who prefer a more immersive experience in nature. These activities allow visitors to explore the unspoiled landscapes of the Italian Alps and the Dolomites.

Water Sports in Italy

Italy is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and is home to numerous rivers and lakes. It offers a variety of water sports, from swimming to sailing, for both locals and tourists alike.

Water Polo

playing water polo in Italy
Water Polo: where grace meets frit in the toughest of arenas.

Water polo is a popular sport in Italy, with the national team, Settebello, one of the world’s best. The Italian Swimming Federation (Federnuoto) organizes national water polo tournaments and supports young players’ development.

The Pro Recco team is one of Italy’s most successful water polo clubs, having won numerous national and international titles.

Suggested Read: 250 Italian Team Names: Funny, Unique & Cool Ideas


swimmers racing
Diving into tradition: Italy’s passion for the sport of swimming.

Swimming is another popular water sport in Italy, with many talented swimmers representing the country at international competitions such as the World Swimming Championships.

Federica Pellegrini is a well-known Italian swimmer who has won multiple Olympic medals and set world records in the sport.

In addition to these traditional water sports, Italy also offers opportunities for surfing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing. These activities are mainly practiced in coastal areas and are popular among younger generations.

Apart from football, Italy also has a rich history in other sports. Here are some of the other popular sports in Italy:


playing tennis in Italy
Tennis fever: Italy’s love for the court.

Tennis is a very popular sport in Italy. It has produced some of the best professional tennis players in the world, including Adriano Panatta, Nicola Pietrangeli, and Francesca Schiavone. The Italian Open, which is held annually in Rome, is one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world.

Additionally, pickleball in Italy is also gaining traction as a favored paddle sport, reflecting its growing global popularity.


Golf is becoming increasingly popular in Italy, with more and more golf courses being built across the country. The Italian Open, which is part of the European Tour, is held annually and attracts some of the best golfers in the world.

Did you know? Bocce ball is incredibly popular in Italy and ranks as the third most popular sport globally, following soccer and golf. Read the fascinating history of bocce ball.


Italy’s Rhythmic Gymnastics: Olympic grace, precision, and unforgettable performance.

Gymnastics is a prominent sport in Italy, with the Italian Gymnastics Federation overseeing its national activities and representation in global events.

The country has participated in notable international competitions, including the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and the Olympic Games.

Italian gymnasts have excelled in various disciplines, bagging medals in artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, with their rhythmic gymnastics program notably securing medals at every World Championships since 2003.


Fencing is a traditional sport in Italy, and the country has a long history of producing some of the best fencers in the world. Valentina Vezzali, one of the most successful fencers of all time, is from Italy.

Combat Sports

Combat sports such as boxing and kickboxing are also popular in Italy. Italy has produced some of the best boxers in the world, including Nino Benvenuti and Vito Antuofermo. Kickboxing is also becoming increasingly popular, with many Italian fighters competing at the highest level.

Passionate about running? Italy’s scenic marathons offer a unique blend of athletic endeavor and cultural allure. Explore the best running races in Italy in our article.

Sport Institutions and Organizations in Italy

sports in Italy: football, auto racing, water polo

As a country with a deep-rooted passion for sports, Italy takes its sports institutions and organizations seriously. These organizations play a significant role in developing and promoting sports in the country.

One of Italy’s most prominent sports organizations is the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI), which oversees the country’s participation in the Olympic Games.

CONI also promotes and develops sports at the grassroots level and ensures that Italian athletes receive the necessary support and resources to compete at the highest level.

Another important organization is the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), which regulates and promotes football in Italy. It oversees the national football league and the Italian national football team, which is considered one of the best in the world.

In addition to these organizations, there are also numerous sports clubs and stadiums throughout the country. Football clubs such as Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter Milan are some of the most successful and popular clubs in Italy, with millions of fans both in Italy and around the world.

Italian athletes have also made a name for themselves on the international stage, with many achieving great success in various sports such as football, cycling, and skiing.

Athletes such as Valentino Rossi, Paolo Maldini, Marco Belinelli, and Federica Pellegrini are just a few examples of Italian athletes who have achieved global recognition for their talents and achievements.

Sports and Italian Society

popular sports in Italy: tennis, cycling, rugby

Sports play a significant role in Italian society, with football (soccer) being the most popular sport in the country. Since the late 19th century, football has been a part of Italy’s cultural identity, and it enjoys the highest level of participation across the nation.

The Italian national football team is considered to be one of the best national teams in the world, having won the FIFA World Cup championship four times.

Apart from football, other popular sports in Italy include basketball, volleyball, rugby, and cycling. Italy has also performed well in other international sporting events, such as the Olympics and the European Championships.

In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Italian athletes won 40 medals, including 10 gold medals, 10 silver medals, and 20 bronze medals.

Italian glory: golden triumphs from Tokyo 2020.

Italian sports also generate significant revenue for the country, with football being the primary source of income. According to data compiled by Statista, the revenue generated by the Italian football industry was approximately 2.9 billion euros in 2020.

The revenue is generated from various sources, including ticket sales, merchandising, broadcasting rights, and sponsorships.

popular sports in Italy: volleyball, basketball, motorbike racing

What are Italy’s favorite sports?

Italy has a rich sports culture, and many popular sports are played throughout the country. Some of Italy’s favorite sports include football (soccer), basketball, rugby, cycling, volleyball, and skiing.

What is the national sport of Italy?

The national sport of Italy is football (soccer). This sport is deeply ingrained in Italian culture and is played and watched by millions of people across the country. Italy has a long and successful history in football, having won four FIFA World Cup championships.

Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Italy by far. It is played and watched by people of all ages and backgrounds, and the country has a deep passion for the sport. Football is also a major part of Italian culture, with many famous teams and players hailing from Italy.

In the summer months, many Italians enjoy participating in water sports such as swimming, sailing, and windsurfing. Beach volleyball is also a popular summer sport, as are outdoor activities like cycling and hiking.

Before You Go…

Craving more insights into Italy’s rich tapestry? Dive into the 21 Famous Italian Symbols & Meanings and unearth the icons defining Italy’s soul.

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