It’s pretty safe to say that we’re all here because we’re Fiorentina fans. While perhaps some of us only stick around for discussion of late 90s alternative rock or stupid literary references or Catalogue’s Photoshop wizardry, the Viola are what we’ve all got in common. This stupid team is why we all yell at each other in the comments and wake up at ungodly hours and watch grainy YouTube footage of the 14-year-old “next Adrian Mutu” who Corvino’s supposedly going to buy in the next window.
It’s a pretty weird thing, honestly, and explaining why you’re a Fiorentina fan, even to someone who’s a fan of a mega-team, often feels like a Sisyphean endeavor. Explaining why you’ve invested so much time and emotion in these dudes who wear purple shirts and run around a pitch for 90 minutes every week and make you shout profanities that will probably have some sort of repercussions in the afterlife is even harder when your interlocutor is not a fan of soccer, or of sports in general.
This is a situation I’ve been in a lot, as I tend to get pretty worked up while watching the boys cock something up at 6:30 AM on a Saturday and then explaining to my wife why I’m muttering curse words in English, Italian, and occasionally Quenya. What I’ve discovered is that there’s no real way to describe the feeling you get from supporting a club; it’s a feeling that requires experience rather than explanation.
That’s why I’ve recruited my bemusedly tolerant wife to write about our trip to the Stadio Artemio Franchi to watch Fiorentina soundly thrash (by which I mean barely squeak by, largely through a bit of skulduggery) Atalanta this season.
As some of you may or may not know, Tito and I celebrated our honeymoon recently in Italy and I was lucky enough to get to see Fiorentina in action. As someone who isn’t into sports, I wanted to give my take on the experience of watching live soccer in a foreign country in case any of you have family or friends like myself. I will preface this by saying my only spectator experience is with college American football and it wasn’t a great one…(ahem Penn State). That being said, I really enjoyed my time in Florence surrounded by awesome fans like yourselves.
For starters, I loved that the stadium wasn’t some monstrosity sticking up in the middle of corn field somewhere. From what other fans had told me, it was very old and although in need of some repair, fans were very loyal regarding their stadium. Coming from a place where it seems like the biggest newest stadium is always deemed “the best” I really thought it was refreshing and quite lovely that so many people like this stadium the way it was, cracks and all.
We started off by getting some sausage sandwiches at the food trucks out front after getting the recommendation from some of you. They did not disappoint! After that we went inside and much to my surprise, the seats in the stadium are actually really comfortable concrete seats with backs (why can’t football learn something from soccer)!
One of the things I really enjoyed was the procession of the band dressed in historical costume to honor Florence. Seeing others be so proud and excited for their city was really wonderful and something I had not had the privilege of seeing in other countries. I also really loved how the super fan section was “in it to win it” with the outfits, flags, and chants. I’m also glad we didn’t sit in this section because frankly I think it might have killed me, they are intense!
As for during the game, I have to say the Italians have the best insults. I was glad I had Tito along to fill me in on what they were saying because it was excellent. One of the opposing team’s players fell down on the field and was doing the usual rolling around on the ground thing and a little boy next to me was shouting in Italian, “Look at you, you will never walk again”! Geez kid, that’s some dark shit right there. Also while during the game a few older Italian men got into it with each other even though they were rooting for the same team which was quite hilarious. We also had a lot of fun seeing the only person wearing a Cyril Thereau jersey repeatedly stand up and block the view of everyone else behind him. Needless to say I had a great time and I also appreciated the fact that soccer games are much more short and sweet, y’all do it right.
I really enjoyed reading this, because it helped me step back a little bit and see Fiorentina with a fresh set of eyes. I’m hoping it does the same for you, and also gives you some evidence when someone you know just doesn’t get why you care so much about all these handsome young men kicking a ball around some grass.