Florentines are unlike any sports fans on Earth.
Fans went wild Nov. 4 as Florence’s Fiorentina played, but were ultimately pleased with the 5-2 victory against Hungary’s Debrecen.
The Fiorentina, more commonly known as “la viola,” which means “the purple” in Italian, is having a good year because of its current second-place ranking in the Champions League. La viola was even able to defeat Liverpool, a notoriously strong team, 2-0.
The match between Fiorentina and Debrecen took place at Florence’s Stadio Artemio Franchi, which can house more than 47,000 fans. Security is so strict that foreigners are required to show their passports and are directed to a special entrance.
The stadium is composed of four different sections: the Tribuna Centrale, the Tribuna Maratona, the Curva Fiesole and the Curva Ferrovia. The Curva Fiesole is composed of the most dedicated fans. The section was filled entirely, and people were completely decked out in purple and white, the team’s colors. This section is also the most organized, and its members wave huge Florence flags, hold signs, wave scarves and lead most of the chants.
Foreigners and less dedicated fans sit in the Curva Ferrovia. The section is still spirited, shouting both supportive chants to their team and unsportsmanlike chants at the opposing team. Rude hand gestures, child-like dances and extremely ungentlemanly mutterings about the opposing team’s mothers and sisters were common.
Fans in the different sectors not only bundled up for the cold in their purple and white, but also prepared for the intimidating skies overflowing with sinister black clouds by wearing rain gear, some even resorting to wearing plastic garbage bags.
During the 90-minute game, the only fans to leave their seats were foreigners. Whether to use the toilet or to buy a snack, most spectators did not leave their seat until halftime. It is not like in America, where people go to the game to get a hot dog or nachos; rather, in Italy, they just go to watch the game.
Another noticeable difference between the Stadio Artemio Franchi and American stadiums is the fact that alcohol is not sold at the games. In past years, Fiorentina fans have become too violent during matches, and so alcohol has been banned from the grounds.
Although alcohol is not permitted on the grounds, the smoke from thousands of cigarettes and cigars and who knows what other substances can been seen rising into the Italian sky.
These matches allow outsiders a chance to observe a combination of the two things Italians would die without: calcio (soccer) and cigarettes.