Florence's historic football match   The Origins

by Silvia Messeri

As far as a precise date is concerned, the origin of this sports event dates back to February 17, 1530 when Florence was besieged by the imperial troops of Charles V and in Piazza Santa Croce a match was disputed between the "bianchi" and the "verdi" in sign of contempt and to provoke the enemy.

It is known for certain that a sport with similar characteristics and called "Arpasto", was practised by the Roman legionnaires of ancient Florentia and its playing recalls the battle order of the Roman army.

Figurantes parade through the centre of Florence

In the 1500's it was played mainly in the large piazzas of Florence (Piazza Santo Spirito, Piazza Santa Maria Novella and Piazza Santa Croce) where the playing ground of sand was prepared to host the encounters of the four teams, "verdi, rossi, bianchi and azzurri," which represented the Florentine districts of the period: San Giovanni, Santa Maria Novella, Santo Spirito and Santa Croce.

Matches were held for Carnival or for special recurrences and the particularly rough sport was practised by the young nobles who sought with their ability to conquer the hearts of noble Florentine ladies.

The tradition of Calcio Storico continued almost uninterrupted until the XVIII century and fell into disuse until 1930. Since then, three games are played regularly every year between the end of June on the occasion of St. John's Day, patron saint of Florence, and the beginning of July.

See also:

"The Florence's Historic Football Match"
A blend of rugby, football and wrestling that fascinates Florentines and tourists

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