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The Calcio Storico: a dip in the most ancient soul of Florence

Every tradition with great historical roots often has rough and bloody contours. However, one should immerse himself in the time when certain practices were an expression of the power, both of the city and of wealthy families.

Let me tell you about the Calcio Storico Fiorentino and what it still represents for us nowaday.

The history of Tuscany is full of ancient games, very popular among crowds: the Palio of Siena, the Giostra del Saracino of Arezzo and ... the CALCIO STORICO FIORENTINO, which still survive to changes and time.

Before telling you about our passion, I suggest you to see a short video about one of the games which excite Florence in June


And now? Are you not curious to understand why Florentines love so much a such rough game?

I’ll try to tell you about it…


It is a well-known story: soccer in Italy is a deep-rooted passion crossing generations and social classes and inflaming souls from North to South.

In Florence, however, we have another competition that excites us very much, perhaps even more than the national championship. These are the matches of Calcio Storico Fiorentino - or Calcio in costume - which are played in June, until the the final match played on June 24, on Florence's patron saint's feast day for St. John the Baptist. An event that, as authentic florentine as I am, I look forward to the whole year with a combination of trepidation, pride and pure enthusiasm.

Because for us this is much more than a sport, it is belonging to the city, pride and attachment to the values ​​of the ancient Florentine spirit.


Origins and traditions

According to the tradition, the origin of Calcio Storico Fiorentino is tied to the history of the Roman Empire: the virile character, the rules and the playing field seem, in effect, to support the thesis that it was a sort of training game by Roman legionaries. Even today, as in Roman times, the Calcio in Costume is played on sandy fields and players often has strong physicists as the ancient Gladiators.

The Calcio Storico is also known as Calcio in Costume (Football in Costume) because in Renaissance time, the players were noble and important members of the city of Florence, even the men of the Medici family were Calcianti and they wore colorful fashionable liveries at the time. So, a match in the 1500s was also a colorful costume parade (even if the game was much more animated than a today fashion show)!

In the age of maximum splendor, many matches were played. One above all, however, is remembered today as then: the one played on 17 February 1530, during the siege of the city.

Florence had been held hostage since the summer of 1529 by the troops of Emperor Charles V, called by Pope Clement VII to restore the government of the Medici, expelled from the city following popular revolts. The Florentines, exhausted by hunger and difficulties and as an act of defiance towards the emperor, organized a passionate match in Piazza Santa Croce, easily visible from the surrounding hills where the troops were.

That historic match, whose result is known, had a significant value for the entire population: a demonstration of the pride of the Florentines and of the combative attitude. A mindset still unchanged, I can confirm: we are an extremely tenacious people.

The game of 1530 is the one that our players recall every June 24 in the charming and crowded Piazza Santa Croce.


The Calcio Storico nowaday, celebration and tradition

Every year, in June, the Florentines revive the ancient splendours of the historic districts of the city center.

4 are the historical districts and 4 the colors dressed by the streets of Florence in June: White in Santo Spirito, Red in Santa Maria Novella, Blue in Santa Croce and Green in San Giovanni. These teams face each other in the 2 matches plus the final on June 24 on Florence's patron saint's feast day for St. John the Baptist. Throughout the month there are many celebrations and dinners, in the districts returning to the most beautiful Florentine spirit.

The matches are all preceded by the Historical Costume Procession,, which together with the Flag-wavers of Florence

represent our nation throughout the world. The streets of the city are filled with passion and crowd that admires the colors and the pride of the Calcianti of the 4 teams greeting the Florentines.

Each team consists of 27 players - calcianti - and each match lasts 50 minutes, in which almost everything is allowed to take the ball and score a goal in the opponent's goal net.

The award, today as then, is a veal of excellent Chianina breed (the one of our famous steak Fiorentina). Therefore a symbol of love for traditions that still today distinguishes us.

The celebration ends late in the evening with the Fochi from Piazzale Michelangelo, colorful fireworks that illuminate our city, making it even more romantic. After the rough battle of the Calcio Storico all the players hug each others, moving themselves at the view of the illuminated Florence.

Does it remind you of the most famous Rugby? Who knows… maybe some English passed through Florence during in Renaissance time!!

The folkloristic and evocative character of the Calcio Storico made it a really loved event by tourists from all over the world, who crowd the bleachers curious and concentrated at the same time.


If you are thinking of a holiday in Florence in the early summer, do not miss the chance to live an authentically Florentine experience. Tickets for Calcio Storico games end quickly, hurry up to catch some of them ... you won't regret it!


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