What is calcio fiorentino, its origins and the current celebrations
Calcio storico fiorentino is one of the great traditions of the city, a historical game that is among the fun things to do in Florence for both locals and visitors
What is calcio fiorentino and its origins
Calcio fiorentino (Florentine football) is an early form of football that originated in the 15th century in Florence, Italy. The game may have started as a revival of the Roman sport of harpastum, an ancient form of football, and it is a combination of soccer, rugby and wrestling. It is considered to be one of the earliest code of rules in the history of football. It was commonly played until interest started fading during the 17th century. The game was then revived during 1930s and regained popularity ever since.
Historical Florentine football today: Calcio in costume
Calcio Fiorentino is nowadays played once a year in the Piazza Santa Croce, in Florence. To follow the ancient tradition, it is played in historical costume, hence it is also called calcio in costume. The four teams of the historical neighborhoods of the city of Florence play against each other, first in two semi-finals and then the final match to determine the winner. The four teams are: Santa Croce (blue), Santo Spirito (white), Santa Maria Novella (red) and San Giovanni (green).
Santa Croce Square, which has always been the home to the game, is covered in sand for the occasion to "return" to those times when it was just a dirt square and recreate the setting. Bleachers are also set up so that spectators can better enjoy the game.
It is considered a dangerous game as it is allowed to punch, kick and charge opponents so much as oftentimes players end-up injured. Goals can be scored by throwing the ball over a designated spot on the perimeter of the field with another goal running the width of the short ends. There is a main referee, six linesmen and a field master. Each game is played out for 50 minutes with the winner being the team with the most points or "cacce" scored. The prize for the winning team is a Chianina calf!
How to see a game of calcio fiorentino
Tickets are generally sold in May through the online ticket reseller Boxol.it. We recommend that you buy your tickets ahead of time, as they generally sell out fast. Cost ranges from 20 to 50 euro. The final match, on June 24th, is also the most awaited one, since it's Florence’s patron saint, St. John the Baptist. On this day, a splendid parade in historical costume starts in Piazza Santa Maria Novella and heads through the center on its way to Piazza Santa Croce, passing by the four districts. Don’t forget to end the day’s celebrations along the banks of the Arno to watch the spectacular fireworks launched from Piazzale Michelangelo!