Itinerant Fan

Visiting the Stadio Artemio Franchi

(Photo by Flickr user edo88)

(Photo by Flickr user edo88)

[Editor’s note: I’ve long been fascinated with European soccer despite the notable handicap that I don’t live in Europe. But it’s always great to hear other people’s experiences and share them on this site. Here’s guest writer Hanna’s experience attending a Europa League match at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence, Italy.]

By Hanna Johnson

I just went to one of the most fun matches of my life in Florence, Italy. The match was between Fiorentina and Sevilla. The home team, called “La Fiorentina” or ACF Fiorentina, plays in a fabulous football stadium called Stadio Artemio Franchi. The old nickname is “Comunale” and it has been around since 1931. Although Fiorentina lost the match 0 – 2 to Sevilla FC, the atmosphere inside the stadium was electric and the fans were very well behaved.

If you are planning to visit Florence for another great match you can find many hotel listing sites online. There, you can find the best accommodations for you. The Artemio Franchi Stadium is close to Campo di Marte and Coverciano Area, and on Venere.com you can actually find accommodation by neighborhood. It is definitely worth staying close to the stadium.

Walking into the stadium gave me quite the impression. It is built entirely of reinforced concrete. There is a superb 70-meter concrete tower with the Fiorentina flag in one corner. It is called the “Tower of Marathon.” It is quite a historic place, as it hosted the matches of the World Cup in 1934 as well as prelim games for the Summer Olympics in Rome in 1960.

For years, the Fiorentina coach Artemio Franchi based the team philosophy on playing attack football, whether they are away or home. Leading up to this UEFA Europa League semifinal game, the”Viola” possessed the ball 54 percent of the time and had better passing accuracy than any other Europa League semifinalist (88 percent).

Although no one from Fiorentina scored, two players from Sevilla had amazing goals. The Fiorentina defense was not as strong as I expected, but the players never lost hope and played hard, attacked the opposite goal until the last whistle.

If you have a few days to spend in Florence, there are hundreds of activities for every kind of traveler. After the match take a drive up to Piazzale Michelangelo. You will see the city from above, illuminated at night. The Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) is illuminated and you can see the couples strolling across under the lamplight. During the day, take a trip to the Uffizi Art Gallery. They are the best galleries I have see in Italy, hands down. And for lunch, go to Il Bufalo Trippone. The perfect place to profit the regional flavors. And a very calm place. I definitely loved it!

Florence was always the city of art, and she has maintained this reputation. There are lots of art schools of every kind and nationality in the city, meaning lots of artists, creativity, and cultural exchange aboung. A stroll through Piazza Santa Croce, the artists’ piazza, will give you a good taste of the vibrant art culture in this grand city of Florence.

My last recommendation is to watch the sunset from Fiesole. Fiesole is a neighborhood in the hills above Florence. Take a drive up there as the sun is setting and watch it do down over the beautiful Tuscan hills. There is not much more romantic than this in the world.

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