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The boules team active between 1945 and 1950 (Credits: Archivio Fotografico della Società sportiva italiana)

Società Sportiva Italiana

The “SSI” was born from the merger of two institutions: the Italian Cycling Society of Viña del Mar and the Italian Fast Cycling Society of Valparaíso.

A solemn session was held on the 7th of February 1917, during which Giovanni Unghiatti announced that the two organisations had approved their unification and declared, on behalf of all participants, the official constitution of a new entity called the “Società Sportiva Italiana”. In this way, the agreement in principle reached by the heads of both institutions in the Main Hall of the Sixth Corps of the Fire Brigade was brought to a successful conclusion. And so began a period of great social and sporting achievements.

The new institution immediately launched its sporting activities, which initially included cycling, hiking, football and water polo. In 1918, the SSI joined forces with the newly formed Valparaíso Athletic Association. In the 1920s, it participated in swimming and boxing competitions, and from 1923 to 1926 the cyclists of the SSI were major competitors.

In football, Sportiva was champion of Valparaíso in 1932. In water polo, the SSI took part in the Buenos Aires competition under the name “Liguria”, a team that soon became absolutely unbeatable.

In basketball, the greatest successes of the men's team were the four national championship wins (in 1971, 1978, 1980 and 1982) and the second place in the South American Club Champions Championship in Peru (1971). Even today this is the best ever placement of a Chilean club in a South American club championship abroad. The women's team is successful today, having become National League champions in 2016 and 2021.

Today, Sportiva is present in all categories of basketball: from minibasket to the higher categories, both in women's and men's basketball. There are over one hundred athletes in total.

As for boules, the SSI promoted the creation of the Chilean Federation, organises hundreds of championships and is a great breeding ground for the national teams. The most notable successes include those of Mario Piazze, the only Chilean South American bowls champion in 1972 (Peru), and Rodolfo Galvez, world runner-up (“Raffa” style) in 2010 (Italy). At the 2021 World Boules Championships in Alassio, sisters Sabrina and Melisa Polito, who were born within the club, added two more bronze medals to their long World Cup career.

There have been many Italian descendants among the managers and players of the different branches of the SSI since its foundation: you can read about their stories in the museum.


These stories were collected thanks to Romina Deprati, Gina Marques and Andrea Pedemonte in collaboration with the Archives of the Società Sportiva italiana.


Group photo for the picnic organised one month after the founding of the Società Sportiva Italiana (Credits: Archivio fotografico della Società Sportiva Italiana)
Articles of Association of Società Sportiva Italiana, 1917 (Credits: Archivio Fotografico della Società sportiva italiana)
List of founding members of the Italian Sports Society, 1917 (Credits: Archivio Fotografico della Società sportiva italiana)
The basketball team in 1949 (Credits: Archivio Fotografico della Società sportiva italiana)
The boules team active between 1945 and 1950 (Credits: Archivio Fotografico della Società sportiva italiana)