Following yet another video (this time from RAI journalist Sara Meini) of the Stadio Artemio Franchi’s ruinous condition, we spent a bit of time wondering what Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso’s (lack of) public response meant. While figuring out the thoughts of the man at the top of the Viola chain of command is important, we should also remember that a team belongs as much to the supporters as to anyone else.
It’s tough for most of us to understand the reality on the ground with regards to this kerfuffle. While getting a firm grasp of the intricate machinations of Tuscan politics is a task beyond this website, what we can do is give everyone a look at how regular people living in the city feel about the current state of the stadium and what moving Fiorentina’s home base would mean for them.
Alessandro Carletti is the brother of the late Enrico “kiko” Carletti, who headed up the Viola Club Lussembourgo. Alessandro still lives in Florence and works as in the tourism business. He’s a lovely man and, through his work, has a pretty good feeling for what’s going on in the halls of government in Florence and the surrounding region.
“I saw Sara Meini’s video and it is really sad to realize in what conditions the Artemio Franchi Stadium is, a stadium where a glorious team such as Fiorentina plays and which also hosts other international events (last November 14, 2020, Italy-Scotland was played there for the Nations Cup 2020). Unfortunately this is a very deep-rooted evil in Italy where beautiful things are also built but then there is little maintenance. It would be nice to be able to build a new stadium in Florence but if a very rigorous maintenance plan is not drawn up, there is a risk in 20 or 30 years of finding yourself in the same problems as now with the Franchi. Let’s say that it would be necessary, if a new stadium were built, that an area be prepared where there are all the necessary infrastructures (near the tramway, large car parking areas, etc.).”
Gianni Matteo Rontani has chatted with us before, so I’ll keep the intro brief. He works for a printing business and moonlights as the president of the Rocco Commisso Fan Club.
“Everything has been said and written about the Franchi stadium, or rather too much...The current structural conditions are absurd and catastrophic. The stadium absolutely does not respect the UEFA safety standards. As always it is not my habit to talk about politicians and useless polemics. The stadium must absolutely be made safe first of all with correct and heavy interventions from January 21 in order to make it accessible to the resumption of the entrances. By now we all understand that the Franchi can and must have a total renovation in the interest of the city and Fiorentina. Only the helical curves can remain standing (and must see the introduction of modern glass) and the only tower of Marathon, amazing and useful for filming from above, can be safely modernized. All the rest must be demolished and rebuilt from scratch in order to obtain a beautiful architectural pearl equipped with all the modern facilities with about 40,000 seats all indoors.
“In the adjacent areas (which are of great extension) can be built a hotel, a shopping center and a modern Viola Store and finally the Viola museum. All this immersed in a vast green area to be redeveloped. All the most important Italian and European clubs have built or rebuilt their own stadium in the city (Juventus, Udine, Cagliari, soon Milan, Rome, Verona); Deloitte has made it known through the monitor report that 25 billion euros are available for the Italian stadiums. Also all the top European clubs have their own stadiums in the city (Barcelona, Madrid, Monaco, London, etc.). There is no reason for Florence to think of having a stadium 40 km from the city center, 50 km from Campo di Marte, the historical Viola and soccer area. This is my thought, and it is all doable in 2/3 years at most. You just have to want to do it! All aspects and bureaucratic obstacles must be followed by Joe Barone with the consent of Rocco and the full support by friend Architect Marco Casamonti, no one knows Florence and the area we are talking about better than him and he has all the credentials in the world to realize one of the most beautiful European Stadium. Enough talk now only act!!!
Matteo Pierattini owns Gourmet B&B Villa Landucci (a lovely hotel just 20 minutes walk from the Franchi) and Florenceoncall.com. He’s been part of the business community in Campo di Marte for more than a decade.
“Personally, I consider Nervi’s idea and project a ‘work of art’, not the realization. Therefore for me you can demolish everything and reconstruct it while keeping some ideas (with nice new project reproductions). Campi is just a political thorn. Building a stadium of 40,000 people in the middle of a field served only by 1-lane roads and without any infrastructure will make it useless more than the Franchi.
“The lack of the stadium for me would mean the absence of some tourists in the structure (but not many) only that abandoning it will lead to extreme decadence in the neighborhood.”
While the New York Times and other English-language outlets may have seized on the possible “destruction” of the Artemio Franchi as an attempt to raze part of Italy’s architectural heritage, it seems pretty clear that they haven’t talked to many people in Florence.
The simple fact is that the Franchi is going to come down one way or another because it is literally disintegrating. It desperately needs a lot of repairs that the municipal government can’t finance on its own. Reaching an agreement with Rocco Commisso and the Fiorentina brass is in everyone’s best interests.
Nobody doubts that Pier Luigi Nervi’s masterpiece has tremendous significance as a piece of architecture. However, we’re not talking about a 15th century palace; we’re talking about a sporting arena that was built in 1931 and is on its last legs. A stadium is designed for the people who use it, and the people in Florence seem to be largely in favor of refurbishing it. That ought to carry some weight, which is something the Franchi itself won’t be able to do for much longer.