You may remember our announcement a little while ago about the new series coming to Viola Nation called Better Know Florence. We are now able to bring you the first installment - and what better place to start than Fiorentina's Stadio Artemio Franchi?
Arriving in Florence for the first time with the intention of seeing a match can be a little daunting when you are unfamiliar with the procedures. The rules for watching a game in Serie A can be more rigorous than in the UK, for example. This guide is created with the intention of making things a little easier - but it must be noted that the guide is based on my own personal experiences - you may discover an entirely different way of doing things once you are there. My recommendations are based on seeing the game on a budget, however there are no shortage of luxury options in Florence if this is what you require!
Florence has its own airport - Firenze Peretola, however certainly from the UK it is much cheaper to fly to either Pisa or Bologna via the budget airlines. From Pisa airport you can easily catch a train to Florence. It takes around an hour and only costs in the region of €8. There is also a bus service, which is a little cheaper but perhaps less comfortable than the air conditioned train. Don't forget that when travelling on public transport in Italy, you must validate your ticket by before each journey. More information on this can be found here. From Bologna, you can hop on a bus from the airport which will take you to the city's main train station. This station is vast, so allow plenty of time before your train departs to find the platform - it could well be underground. This high speed train from Bologna only takes around 30 minutes to arrive at Florence's Santa Maria Novella train station.
Where to stay
Just a 10-15 minute walk from the station is PLUS Florence. This is a hostel but there are a wide range of rooms available, meaning that you can book a private single, double or twin room to avoid sharing a dorm with strangers. Depending on time of year, you can book a private twin room for as little as €20 per night. The hostel is modern, clean, has both indoor and outdoor pools - and perhaps best of all a stunning roof terrace where you can relax in the evening with a fantastic view of the Duomo. A buffet style breakfast is also available for just €6.
Bear in mind that you will definitely need your passport to buy your ticket and you will need to present it again when entering the ground. There are Fiorentina ticket points around the city, including one outside the stadium at Viale Manfredo Fanti 85/A, however it may be more convenient to head to the Fiorentina Point on the first floor of Mercato Centrale - halfway down via Nazionale between PLUS hostel and the train station. Either way, you can purchase your tickets from there. If you plan to go to an away game, you will need an inViola card if you wish to sit with the Fiorentina fans, and it will make the process easier for purchasing home tickets. You can download the forms to take with you from here.
Getting to the ground
The ground is on the outskirts of the historic centre, so it is not recommended to walk from the city centre! However you can easily catch a train from Santa Maria Novella to Campo Di Marte, which is right next to the stadium. You can also catch a bus from the terminal at Piazza San Marco. A word of warning about taxis: In my experience, it is near on impossible to get a taxi in Florence. This is a problem after night matches when the train services have finished. The best thing to do is when you come out of the ground is to walk to the end of Viale Manfredo Fanti until you reach a crossroads. Turn right down Viale dei Mille until you reach the number 17 bus stop on the right hand side of the road. This bus will take you to Piazza San Marco, and then onto Santa Maria Novella train station. Remember that you can't buy tickets on the bus - they are on sale at most tobacconists in the city and also from the main ATAF reception to the left of the train station. It is a good idea to buy a few bus tickets in advance for when you need them.
Before the game
It is well worth arriving at the stadium a couple of hours before kick off to soak up the atmosphere. There is absolutely no shortage of food and drink at your disposal. Bar Marisa and Bar Maratona on the main road outside the stadium serve drinks that you can take outside. There are rows and rows of hot food stalls selling panini and local speciality - salsicca with onions. Many fans bring their own drinks and congregate in groups among the stalls selling merchandise. The sounds, smells and atmosphere are all part of the matchday experience and are highly recommended.
As long as you have your ticket and passport, nothing will stand in your way of getting inside the ground to experience a live Fiorentina game! Don't forget that as part of this series, we are appealing for your stories. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org