Florentine historic football

Florentine historic football

Florentine historic football

Published : 10/24/2017 17:35:10
Categories : fine SPORTS Rss feed

June is one of the most enjoyable months to visit Florence, because this is the month when the Florentine Calcio Storico semi-finals are held, finishing with the final which takes place on the 24th June every year - the festival of St. John the Baptist, patron saint of the city.

What is "Calcio Storico"?

Calcio Storico, which started in Florence in the 16th century, is a combination of soccer, rugby and wrestling, and is played today in historical costumes. The four teams of the four historic districts of Florence compete against each other, playing first two semi-finals and then a final to determine the winner.

Piazza Santa Croce has always been the place where this game is played, better known as "Giuoco del Calcio Fiorentino", or more simply as calcio, meaning football. The square is set up as it was in the days when the game began, in a dirt-covered square where there weren’t any stones. Obviously today there are also stands so that the spectators can enjoy the show with the best view.

The first rules of "Calcio" were published in 1580 by Giovanni de’ Bardi, a Florentine count. Invented by the rich and wealthy classes of Florence at the time, the game was initially the preserve of aristocrats and was played on the eve of both Epiphany and Lent. Just like the Roman game Harpastum, the teams are composed of 27 players and you can use both hands and feet. Points are scored by throwing the ball into a certain area of the field and you get extra points for running along the short sides of the field. There is a main referee, six linesmen and a master of the field. Each game lasts 50 minutes, and the winning team will be the one with the most points, also called cacce or ‘hunts’, marked.

The final is always held in style on the 24th June, the day when we celebrate the city's patron saint, St. John the Baptist. There is a magnificent parade in historical costumes along the streets of the city centre, starting from Piazza Santa Maria Novella and arriving in Piazza Santa Croce. All four teams are in the parade, even those that won’t be playing in the final: you will recognise the footballers as they pass. The parade begins roughly around 4pm, while the final begins at 5. It’s enough to head to the centre to be catapulted into the midst of the fun of the parade!

And the prize for the winning team? A Chianina calf!