How did a historic and picturesque Tuscan town like Siena ever get a Serie A football club? Famed for its bareback horse race Il Palio, which fills this majestic medieval settlement with tourists every summer, Siena had a little football club happily dawdling along in the lower leagues until things took an unexpected turn for the better.
Under coach Giuseppe Papadopulo in 2002-03, the club simply forgot how to lose football matches and conquered Serie B. A defence ably marshalled by captain Michele Mignani and backed by goalkeeper Marco Fortin conceded the least goals all season, while at the other end Simone Tiribocchi hit the net with regularity. They were in Serie A for the first time ever.
Favourites for the drop, they survived for not one but seven seasons before finally dropping out in 2010. Even so, they had trouble filling the modest 13,500-capacity municipal sports ground. Then again, it's only recently that the friendly, middle-aged Fedelissimi supporters have been joined by younger ones.
In keeping with Siena's general charm, their tidy stadium is set between the bastions of the Fortezza di Santa Barbara and the 12th-century Church of San Domenico, and for visitors, a quiet stroll to the tree-lined ground bookends a cultural Sunday spent gawping at frescos and fountains.
The verdant Stadio Artemio Franchi – named after a Tuscan football administrator similarly honoured in Florence for Fiorentina's ground – is known as Il Rastrello [the Rake]. As pretty as its setting unquestionably is, it can hardly be described as a footballing hotbed. From the focal Il Campo, stroll up Banchi di Sopra and Piazza Matteoti; from the station, take buses 3 or 9. Tickets are sold at the Fedelissimi fan HQ at Via Mencatelli (evenings only) or Siena Point, Via dei Termini 14.
Club address Via Montanini, 87 - 53100 Siena
Telephone 0039 0577 281084
CITY GUIDE: SIENA
The main train station is 2km north east of town. Coming from
Florence you have to change at Empoli or you can come to Siena by bus
(the TRA-IN or SITA express), which take more than an hour. To get into
town take any city bus heading left.
Campo 56, telephone: 0577 280 551, www.terresiena.it
Twice-yearly bareback horse race Il Palio (www.comune.siena.it)
is spectacular. Thing is it takes place in summer so you can't also see
football. Try Siena's classical concerts as an alternative.
SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT
A picnic. Buy pizza from anywhere, gourmet and organic foods are widely
available and the market in Piazza del Mercato has a variety of
For regular updates on the crazy world of Italian football, see our blog Serie Aaaargh!
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