We spend a lot of time worrying about the Mercafir stadium; last we checked, it’s still delayed as Fiorentina, Florence, and other groups wrangle about land ownership, and it’s likely to stay there until hell freezes over. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the thoughts of a Viola-owned stadium that we forget the team already has a stadium: the Stadio Comunale Artemio Franchi.
In fairness, a lot of people forget about the Franchi. It hasn’t undergone any major updates since 2013, when the stands were brought closer to the pitch. However, much of the recent work hasn’t been as much for Fiorentina as it has for making the stadium a better multi-use facility; after all, it’s still owned by the city of Florence, not by the club, so it’s perfectly reasonable that the local government should try to improve it in ways that will benefit as much of the community as possible.
Florence mayor Dario Nardella referenced those struggles when announced in his newsletter yesterday that he has earmarked €385,000 to refurbish the Curva Fiesole. He explains that, as a new stadium doesn’t seem to be realistic at the moment, that some updates to the old one should suffice for the time being. The brief statement doesn’t discuss the type of improvements fans can expect, but common sense says that better seating options will take precedence.
The Franchi officially opened on 13 September 1931. Designed by Pier Luigi Nervi, the architect and engineer famous for his use of concrete and metal, it was originally called the Stadio Giovanni Berta (a big-deal local fascist) in honor of Artemio Franchi, a native Florentine who served as president of the FIGC and of UEFA. It’s been updated numerous times over the years to hold 43,234 spectators (although at one point it could hold 70,000), but it remains a fantastic example of Italian Rationalist work while also retaining its own distinct charm, such as the 70 meter high torre di Maratona.