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Superintendent Pessina halts work on new training facility

No, Rocco Commisso isn’t thrilled.

General view shows empty stadio Artemio Franchi prior to the... Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

After having been frustrated at every turn in his efforts to build a new stadium, Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso now faces similar obstacles with the new training facility the team is building in Bagno a Ripoli. Superintendent Antonio Pessina’s office issued an order to stop construction at the Villa Favard yesterday, citing a number of minor flaws in architect Marco Casamonti’s plan, which has already passed through local, regional, and state authorities.

None of the problems are big in and of themselves. The issues begin with the training pitches: the Superintendent wants less land dug up in order to maintain soil quality, which could lead to a decrease in the number of surfaces the club can install. He’s also concerned about canopies over the fields, which will be taller than existing buildings on the property.

About those existing buildings, Pessina also claims that the club’s plans to knock down older agricultural outbuildings don’t meet Florence’s guidelines on preservation and has concerns that the updates to the Villa Favard will render it unrecognizable. There’s also a bit about a 2 square meter increase to the paved parking area being a possible environmental violation.

The friendly reading of this is that Italian bureaucracy is creaky at the best of times and Pessina is simply putting his personal stamp on the affair. These wrinkles shouldn’t take too long for a seasoned professional like Casamonti to iron out, and everything will be back on track shortly, even if it means that the projected November completion of the project gets pushed back a little bit.

There is a vocal minority, however, that sees the rejections as part of a punitive action designed to keep Commisso from moving Fiorentina out of the Stadio Artemio Franchi and Florence. This reading makes Pessina an agent of mayor Dario Nardella, whose lack of cooperation has prompted Viola fans to protest as only Tuscans can.

An apoplectic Commisso has already spoken with Bagno a Ripoli mayor Francesco Casini and Joe Barone, who’ve explained that this should only result in a delay of a month or two, which has apparently calmed him considerably. Still, it’s a deeply frustrating setback for the club and a painful reminder of how hard it can be to push anything through official channels in Italy.

As a palette cleanser, though, here’s the concept art for Casamonti’s design. It’s quite nice.