Game Day in Florence: The Purple Scarf River

On Sunday, I woke up expecting to watch a lighthearted football game, take a few scenic pictures for my soccer-loving father, and have a relatively chill day off. During my walk to Artemio Franchi stadium, the streets were strangely quiet, and I began to think I was walking the wrong way… until I spotted the first signs of the purple scarf river. It began as a trickle, with the occasional couple wearing purple scarves under their coats, or a Fiorentina flag blowing on a nearby patio. As I got closer to the stadium, I noticed more and more purple: scarves, shoes, coats, and even face paint. The trickle turned into a stream of purple scarves, and then all of a sudden I found myself surrounded by Fiorentina fans buzzing with excitement for their most treasured tradition, football.

As game time drew nearer, the air outside of the stadium began filling with loud laughter, fans embracing each other, and flashy food trucks selling beer and paninis. The energy before the game could be felt from a mile away, and was only a precursor for what was to come inside of the stadium.

I spent more time using Google Translate than I would like to admit, but I finally found my seat amongst the mass of Italians singing Oh Fiorentina. I was lucky enough to sit behind an elderly family of die hard Fiorentina fans, who made my experience unforgettable. Although they did not speak much English and I do not speak much Italian, they were so welcoming and were ecstatic that I was attending my first football game. My new friends taught me Fiorentina cheers, hugged me when our team scored, and even took a selfie with me.

I truly felt the passion amongst the fans when the Fiorentina team first ran out onto the field. Children and adults alike were waving purple flags to show their support for their favorite players, and singing songs to the athletes they have spent years admiring.

When the game began, every eye in the stadium was glued to the ball. I am grateful to understand the rules of soccer, because I found myself alongside my fellow Florentines sharing the disappointment of a foul, or in awe of the players’ silky smooth ball handling skills.

The most unforgettable moment was when our team scored their first goal. The reaction was electrifying; water was sprayed everywhere, the bleachers were rumbling from fans jumping up and down, and thousands of thrilled Fiorentina fans erupted in joy.

Football is not a hobby in Italy, it is a lifestyle. The sport traces back hundreds of years, and it is a tradition forever engraved in Italians’ hearts. Next to drinking D.O.C.G. wine with Pino or eating Fiorentina steak, attending a football game is the best way to dive into Florentine culture. Attend one game, and the spirit of Italian football will be with you forever.

Tips for Attending Italian Football Games:

  1. Tickets: I purchased my tickets on Viagogo a few weeks in advance. You are also able to purchase tickets at the stadium the day of the game, however, there is no guarantee for available spots, and the stadium is pretty far out of the way.

  2. Do not bring a water bottle to the game. I sadly had to throw mine away, but they do let you pour your water into a cup before entering the stadium.

  3. Check where the seat is before you purchase your ticket. I ended up sitting on the side opposite of where most fans sit, and wished I had been closer to the action. As far as I am aware, the sections S1-S10 seems to be where the families and opposing fans sit, so if you want to stand with the majority of Fiorentina fans I would avoid these areas.

  4. Bring a form of government issued ID. I didn’t realize I needed ID to get in, and the guards graciously accepted my school issued ID, although they do not normally do this.

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