Florentine Football: historic and barbaric!


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florentine football santa croce florence

The historic parade before the match (photo: http://www.calciostoricofiorentino.it/en/)

If Calcio Storico Fiorentino, or Florentine football, were to be summed up in one word, that word may well be ‘aggressive’! This rather brutal and bloody game goes back a long way, and it is said to be the origin of many modern ball games, such as football and rugby. So how did Florentine football actually come about?

The origins of this boisterous sport are actually believed to date back to Roman times. The Roman army took a Greek ball game, adapted it, and used it to train the warriors. As you can imagine, it was a pretty violent game right from the start! So what exactly did this game involve? Well, there was a sandy pitch, a ‘ball’ made of up leather and rags, and the object of the game was to get this ball into the opponents filed…by any means possible! Funnily enough, this game became increasingly popular over the centuries, with all areas of society getting involved during the middle ages. Noblemen organised official matches, whereas regular Florentine men and boys took to the city streets and played against each other there.

There is a small gap in the history of the sport; a gap of several hundred years in fact, but it was once again revived in Florence, and in 1930 a tournament was held between the four historic quarters of the city. From that point on, this football tournament has been held every year. In fact, it has become one of the most important historical manifestations in Florence. Three matches are played every year in June and the exciting final is held in an equally as exciting location: the Piazza Santa Croce, or Santa Croce Square. On June 24th, this beautiful location in Florence will be transformed into a big sandy pitch, on which 2 teams of men will use all manner of different (and brutal!) tactics to get the ball into the other team’s net. You’ll be relieved to know that sucker punching and kicks to the head are not allowed. Although head butting and punching are!

Why not come and explore the Santa Croce Square in Florence, as well as many more of the city’s historical sights, with our popular guided city tour. Discover the artistic wonders of the Uffizi gallery, marvel at the famous Piazza della Signoria, and when you reach the Piazza Santa Croce, get ready to witness a sporting tournament like no other! Just watch out for the big, burly Calcio Storico players running towards you though!

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