Francium is one of the best candidates for measurements of atomic parity violation and for the search of permanent electric dipole moments. These fundamental measurements rely on precision studies in atomic spectroscopy and on the development of magneto-optical traps. A radioactive francium beam facility has been commissioned at INFN's national laboratories in Legnaro, Italy. The physics of francium production and trapping will be discussed, together with some of the technical challenges involved and a summary of recent results. Several options are being considered for future upgrades of this unique facility, including the new concept of a recirculating-beam ion source, which combines ionization cooling of a stored primary beam with a thin internal production target.