The real game played at the Franchi
While the people of Volterra rediscover their amphitheater, the Florentines are preparing to
destroy theirs: the Artemio Franchi Stadium. A state law (just approved as a bipartisan
amendment to the Simplification Decree) will allow the Fiorentina football club (or rather its
current ownership) to restructure it in violation of the Code of Cultural Heritage and "from any
declarations of cultural or public interest already adopted, in compliance with only specific
structural, architectural or visual elements whose conservation or reproduction is strictly
necessary for testimonial purposes, even in shapes and sizes other than the original one ".
This means that for the Florence Stadium (and for all the other historic sports facilities in Italy) any conservation protections no longer apply. If there is a helical staircase, or a particularly daring grandstand, one will be able to disassemble and rebuild them somewhere else—or even just reproduce them to scale. It is the end of the very notion of a historic monument: if it can be demolished, preserving only the precious organs, it means that the body, that living and unitary organism that we call a monument, can be killed. Imagine saving only one tower of Castel del Monte, only two arches of the Doge's Palace in Venice, some pinnacles of the Milan Cathedral or ten columns of the Pantheon: wouldn't that be an even more humiliating and inglorious death?
But how can a stadium compare to those ancient and illustrious monuments? In the case of Florence, that comparison has long been consolidated and has become final: there is no art history textbook that does not dedicate a page and a few photographs to this masterpiece by Pier Luigi Nervi. The constant increase in visits from twentieth century architecture enthusiasts, who come to the Franchi on pilgrimages from all over the world, tells us that the ethereal flight of Nervi's reinforced concrete is still capable of speaking to our hearts. The very document that certifies being Italian - the passport - bears, on page 31, a reproduction of the Franchi grandstand, part of a canon of monuments which includes (among many others) all those mentioned above. There could not be a more eloquent contrast between the reasons for history, identity and beauty and the brutality of the market, of money, of power.
Will we really leave the former at the mercy of the latter? Will we really let a monument that represents us all be destroyed for the interest of a few? According to Nervi, concrete found its shape by itself: it is up to us to decide whether it will keep it.