With Bologna and Fiorentina trophyless in over 20 years and separated by 100km, the rivalry between the two Serie A clubs is neither one born from the eternal fights for silverware or local disputes, yet the colour and the passion of the Derby dell’Appennino remains a significant date in the Italian football calendar.
Although the entertaining years of a Viola side containing stars like Gabriel Batistuta and Rui Costa delivered two Coppa Italia successes, like the Rossoblu, it is unlikely that they will challenge for the Scudetto in the near future. Both clubs last lifted a title in the 1960s, but whereas Fiorentina can claim a more recent success (1968/69), the Felsinei have seven triumphs to the Tuscan’s two.
Why is it called the Derby dell’Appennino?
The distance separating the teams feels big enough to question the derby moniker attached to the fixture, but what physically parts the one-time Scudetto challengers, the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano mountain range, are considerable enough in geographical significance to grant the label.
Initially, an up-and-coming Fiorentina side in the 1950s and 1960s that challenged the dominance and position of Bologna across the wider region raised tensions between the clubs, but it was 2005 when any friendly relations probably ended. Looking condemned to Serie B, the Viola won on the last day of the season to send Bologna into the second tier, albeit after a play-off with Parma.
The Divine Ponytail
Bologna and Fiorentina do share one thing in common; that one of the best players of their generation and an Italian football icon, Roberto Baggio pulled on the historic shirts of both clubs during his storied career.
The Viola signed the future Balon d’Or winner from Vicenza in 1985 and watched him dazzle the crowds in the Stadio Artemio Franchi for five seasons until his performances at Italia 90′ eventually resulted in a move to Juventus.
After leaving the Bianconeri in 1995, Baggio struggled to convince AC Milan coach Fabio Capello that he deserved a regular starting place with the Rossoneri and headed south to Bologna. Recovering his form in Emilia-Romagna, the Felsinei fans got to witness one of his best campaigns, netting 22 times in 30 games and finishing second behind Ronaldo for Serie A Player of the Year.