Lights and shadows around a stadium that has become unique and characteristic in its own way.
There has always been something fascinating and at the same time incomplete in the Artemio Franchi Stadium in Siena. Dropped in the natural basin at the foot of the Mycenaean Fortress, on one side, and in the shadow of the austere Gothic profile of the Basilica Cateriniana di San Domenico, to the south, the stadium of the Robur has always been poised between the incredible panorama that surrounds it and the ungainly appearance of its steps, so unstable and precarious that they have become the negative symbol of its decline.
It is not a place together that many enthusiasts, this passage together with a few landscapes that can be kidnapped, even if in conditions of at the limit of acceptable. Despite the recent difficulties of the club, the Franchi has managed to become a Serie A stadium and a symbol of the history of the city starting from being a sports field born almost by chance.
A long time has passed since here there was a bumpy meadow, actually with very little grass, so-called in the Conca del Rastrello. In fact, a century has passed since 1923 when the then Siena team began training here, in the shadow of a small wooden plank tribune, with the aim (and ambition) of making it a stadium.
“Stadio”, the Rastrello, will become so only in 1938, while through various problems the ground handling works (to create the bottom of the field) and the construction of the stands have been carried out. In the meantime, Siena played again in the Piazza d’Armi field while, between one construction site intervention and the next, occasional gymnastic or horse-riding competitions were disputed in the Rastrello basin.
On December 8, 1938, the new stadium was finally inaugurated, after only the year before another 130 thousand cubic meters of land had been brought to complete the game fund (at the time for a cost of 1 million lire). And despite the 1935 project signed by Eng. Sabatini had been reduced for reasons of expediency (it also included the construction of a swimming pool, a gymnasium and an athletics field), the stadium was there, with a beautiful central covered grandstand worthy of the name (on the west side, currently still existing although modernized over the years, and called Tribuna Danilo Nannini).
initially named after Rino Daus, a fascist activist who died in retaliation in 1921, today we know him as Artemio Franchi Stadium: one of the most important managers of Italian football, Sienese by origin, Florentine by birth and then disappeared in Siena in a tragic road accident in 1983, it is curious that today he is celebrated by two of the most discussed stadiums in the Italian scene (that of Siena, in fact, and that of Florence).
But the more time passes, the more the history of the Siena stadium, which rises in the Contrada del Drago and it is a 10-minute walk from Piazza del Campo (because here you can’t talk about something without connecting it to the colors to be defended during the historic Palio), it takes a turn inversely proportional to the successes. Between the ’50s and’ 60s, Siena stabilized in Serie C and the system was enriched by the uncovered grandstand on the east side, and subsequently by two corner sectors.
Then, at the end of the 90s, the exploit. The bianconeri center their promotion to Serie B in 2000 and, just three years later, they move up to Serie A (where they will remain for about ten years). It is Siena that makes you dream, with the attacking duo Enrico Chiesa-Tore Andre Flo, but the stadium is also forced to adapt to the strict infrastructural criteria of the top flight, and begins to enrich itself with a collage of single sectors in innocent tubes, which almost transform the name “Rastrello” into an effective description of the arrangement of the stands.
Strictly uncovered (except for the historic grandstand) and sensationally confused, the facility becomes a paradox for how much it appears patched up in the presence of a place and a landscape that is the envy of any other Italian sports venue from afar. The Franchi also becomes known among fans because it is regularly accessible during the week (which is almost impossible for a professional football stadium). and it becomes strange to sit freely on one of the seats in the stadium, with no matches scheduled, and look around seeing the bell tower of the Basilica of San Domenico or the walls of the Mycenaean Fortress, as if you were in a natural amphitheater that has more tourist than sporting meaning .
With the collapse of the MPS group, Siena did not register for the 2014/15 Serie B championship and the following year went into liquidation. Pages of absolute chaos separate in the club’s corporate management and the Franchi remains in the background, partly overwhelmed and partly abandoned.
What future for the Franchi di Siena?
In June 2021, the football club Siena Noah had been awarded the municipal notice for stadium management, with a ten-year concession and the consequent commitment to carry out the adaptation works to be started within six months, and finished by March 2023.
Rather stringent deadlines for an intervention plan that includes the static consolidation and seismic adaptation of the steps and covered grandstand, so as to be in line with the new buildings: a wellness center, restaurants and a small auditorium.For an investment of about 50 million euros, the idea would be to completely the Franchi in a modern stadium with at least 15 thousand seats, and to all this is added the current ordinary management, with maintenance and cleaning of the seats, and the maintenance and pruning of the trees and green areas of the stadium-area.
in the’held 2021, the councilor for sport, Paolo Benini, defined the Franchi “A heap of pipes, a postmodern and indefinable thing, horrendous”, and he hoped that discussions would begin to build a new stadium in its place.
In January 2022, the PD brought a question to the Municipality with a group asking for information about the actual start of the works (given the time deadlines envisaged) and if there is a plan B that can guarantee an alternative not to leave the stadium to itself . The game remains open, with difficulty, but this place deserves a future worthy of its history.
»The Franchi Stadium in Siena is here, on Google Maps
© Reproduction Reserved