Love Notes from Italy

Calcio Storico Fiorentino

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A brief history, synopsis and what it’s like to be in the mix.

About a month ago scaffolding went up around Piazza Santa Croce. Confused, I turned to my boyfriend asking him what this was about, assuming it was restorations, or a possible concert. “Calcio Storico,” he said, “one of the most brutal football matches you will ever see.”

Unsure of what this all meant, I decided to do a bit of research myself. I quickly found out there are 4 teams historic Florence is separated into. Santa Croce, Blue (Azzuri); Santo Spirito, White (Bianchi); Santa Maria Novella, Red (Rossi); San Giovanni, Green (Verdi).

Violence in sports has existed through the ages. Take the Romans pitting Gladiators against bulls and lions in the Colosseum, or filling it with water just for the sake of having a mock naval battle.

The archaic times of drinking bad wine out of wooden cups, men wearing capes with skirts, and women in tunics have left us, but for one glorious month the Piazza di Santa Croce is turned into a historical arena, reminding us that traditions, especially in a country as old as Italy, truly live on.

Calcio Storico Fiorentino in Florence: What it is, Ticket Info and More

Saturday, June 11 was the first round of the semi finals with San Giovanni and Santo Spirito. The day after Santa Croce took on Santa Maria Novella.

The teams that won their semifinal rounds were the white team, and the blue team.

A few hours before the match of the day there is a parade through the streets of Florence, up until this point in the day Florence is relatively quiet. Once the festivities start, theres no such thing. I live just down the street from Santa Croce and when the parade finally arrives there, fireworks are set off. I jumped out of my seat not expecting a mid-day fireworks display.

Calcio Storico parade yesterday. Happened to come across it on the way to the hotel. Almost went to the game, too!

A photo posted by Robert Rees (@robertmaxrees) on Jun 13, 2016 at 5:33am PDT


Calcio Fiorentino is the precursor to modern soccer, rugby, and american football. But much more brutal. It most closely resembles rugby, just with costume pants on (did I mention the men are usually shirtless?).

The History of Florentine Soccer and its Origins

The official rules of Calcio Fiorentino were established in 1580, but the games go back further than that. One famous game is recounted as being played on the Arno, when it was iced over a particularly cold winter. According to records some MVP’s throughout history include several of the Medici family, as well as a few popes.

But what about living in Florence during all of this. Well, as Italians, when they go in for something they go all in. Streets blocked off, shops closing early (perfect excuse to get out of work). Living here you have to be part of the tradition. Couldn’t agree with you more @Bee_anca76.


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