Q I would like to take my football-mad 16-year-old son to see Inter Milan play sometime during this football season. Please can you advise the best way to go about buying tickets, where we should stay and how to get there?
M Tyrrell, Dublin
A Your timing is impeccable. The top flight of the Italian football league nearly didn't happen this year. The lack of a deal between Italy's major pay-TV platform (Rupert Murdoch's Sky Italia) and a television consortium of smaller clubs was one of two major issues threatening to derail the start of the season. However, following an emergency meeting of club presidents, Italy's Serie A started on time on 31 August. Not only that, the Premiership contenders Arsenal have also been drawn in the same UEFA Champions League group as Inter and will be battling it out in Milan on 25 November.
FC Internazionale, or Inter Milan as they are more commonly known, call the world-famous Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan's San Siro district their home. The stadium has an enormous 85,000 person capacity and for atmos-phere, it's hard to beat. The San Siro is also the home of AC Milan, Milan's other football team and Inter's fiercest rivals. The two teams share the ground, taking it in turns to use the stadium on alternate weekends. This means there's a home game at San Siro every week. The stadium itself has played a part in Italy's footballing history - built in 1927, its illustrious history has included playing host to the much of the 1990 World Cup action, in which Italy went out to Argentina in the semi-finals. The grounds have also hosted three European Championship Finals in 1965, 1970 and 2001.
Expectations are particularly high this year as Inter or "Nerazzurri" as they are known to their fanatical fans, are in top form at the moment and are expected to make a genuine challenge for the Italian league title, also known as the "scudetto".
The team got off to a promising start on 31 August with a 2-0 win against Modena. Dates for all of Inter's home games for the coming season have been announced and can be obtained from the club's official website at www.inter.it.
Tickets are priced in a similar way to that of the English Premier League, where the price of a ticket varies according to the calibre of the opposition. Games involving Inter Milan and the top five teams in the league such the likes of Juventus, AC Milan and Lazio are considered level one games. Ticket prices for these games range from €164 (£117) for the best seats down to €33 (£24) for seats with a more limited view of the pitch. Matches between Inter Milan and any of the other teams in the league are considered level two games and prices for these start at €147 (£105) for the best seats and come down to €30 (£21) for seats with a more restricted view of the pitch. Tickets and booking information can be found on the authorised ticket seller Ticketone (00 39 02 29 53 65 77; www.ticektone.it.). It is possible to buy tickets online, however, you will have to keep a keen eye on things, as tickets only go on sale around seven to 10 days in advance of a match. It also goes without saying that there is a strong demand for tickets.
Aer Lingus (0818 365 000; www.aerlingus.com) offers return flights from Dublin to Milan's Linate airport, located 10km outside the city. Expect to pay around €210 (£140) return per adult in September. However, if you decide to wait to book the flights until after you have secured tickets it will be considerably more. Alitalia (01 677 5171; www.alitalia.ie) offers return flights to Milan's Malpensa, 46km from the centre of the city.
Your best bet for accommodation in Milan is to stay somewhere near one of the underground stations.
The stadium at San Siro is easily accessible from central Milan being located 1km north-west of the city. The best way to get there is on the metro, Milan's underground system. The station you need for the San Siro is the Lotto station, which is on the MM1 line (colour coded green). A day ticket for the metro valid for unlimited travel will cost €3 (£2) and the journey from the centrally located Duomo station takes 10 minutes. When you arrive at Lotto station you can either take the free shuttle bus to the grounds or just follow the crowds. More information and a map of Milan's metro can be found on its website, www.atm-mi.it.
The Hotel Gritti (00 39 02 801056) on Piazza Santa Maria Beltrade 4, is just minutes away from the Duomo station, which is also at the centre of Milan's sights and attractions. In September it offers twin rooms from €142 (£101) per night including breakfast and tax. This is conveniently located close to both the Duomo (MM1 and MM3 metro lines) and Cordusio (MM1) metro stations.
If you have time, you could combine your match day experience with the San Siro Museum (00 39 02 4042432; www.sansirotour. com) and one of its guided tours. Inter Milan has a very proud history, and if your son is a fan this will be of real interest to him. The tour of the stadium lasts 35 minutes and your son will be able to see the changing rooms used by his heroes and see the cups the team have won in the museum. The stadium is open daily for tours from 10am-5pm. Admission costs €12.50 (£8) per adult and €10 (£7) per child (under 18). It is worth calling first though as times can vary, especially if there is a match or other function at the stadium.
You also have plenty of time to plan your trip - Inter's last home game of the season is against Empoli on 16 May 2004. For further information about visiting Milan contact the Italian State Tourist Board in London on 00 44 207 408 1254 and see www.enit.it.
Q My son is planning on taking a gap year before he starts university in 2004. He wants to travel in Australia and New Zealand but will need to generate some extra money while he is out there. I know a lot of people do this, but does he need a special visa in order to pick up some work?
Mrs C Cary, via e-mail
A With a few exceptions, the majority of people travelling to Australia are required to obtain a visa irrespective of their reason for travel.
If your son is travelling to Australia independently and is not part of an organised group, his best bet will be to apply for a Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa. This visa, which costs £70, is valid for one year and will enable him to work for an employer for up to three months, although there is no limit to the amount of employers he can have during his 12-month stay. To be eligible for the WHM visa, candidates must be aged between 18 and 30 at the time of application. Your son will also need to show his return ticket or prove that he is in possession of sufficient funds for the fare to his intended overseas destination on departure from Australia, and that he will have enough money to support himself during his working holiday. Finally, your son must not have previously entered Australia on this type of visa. The visa takes four to five weeks to process, so make sure your son applies in good time. To enquire about any of the above and to obtain an application form contact the Australian High Commission on 020-7379 4334 or see www.australia.org.uk.
As far as New Zealand is concerned, a British passport is sufficient to travel around the country for up to six months. In order to work, however, your son will need to obtain a visa. In 1991 the governments of New Zealand and Britain launched the United Kingdom/New Zealand Working Holiday Scheme. This enables young people from New Zealand and the UK to undertake working holidays of up to 12 months in each other's countries. There is an annual quota of 9,000 visas available for British applicants aged between 18 and 30. The 2003/4 allocation went on sale on 1 September. When I telephoned yesterday, 8,495 visas were still available, but it's worth bearing in mind that once this quota runs out your son will have to wait until next year. The visa costs £45 and you son can either apply in person with his current visa and fee in which case it will be issued on the spot. New Zealand House is located at 80 Haymarket, London, and is open from Monday to Friday 9am-3.45pm. He can also apply by post but as this is processed through the British High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand, it can take up to six weeks. For further details telephone 06909 100 100 (calls cost £1 per minute) or see www.nzembassy.com.
Send your family travel questions to SF Robinson, The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS. Or e-mail email@example.comReuse content