Historical Soccer: Florentine tradition


June is coming. June means summer, heat, long days. But … in Florence, June is synonymous with another thing.


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If you have been in Florence during this period you will certainly know what I am talking about and if you are planning a trip to the city of David just in June, keep reading to know what awaits you ..

Historical football is not just a sport but a real event.
In fact, as early as May, the city begins to prepare for the celebration of these games that will be played on the second weekend of the month and on the 24th of June with the final.

But let’s start from the beginning ..

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Already in ancient Rome it is thought that there was a game very similar to football, but called harpastum. In short, the game with the ball has always been in the DNA of us Italians.
Unlike how we are used to thinking about ourselves, that kind of “football” was more a struggle, in fact the name harpastum meant “to snatch up”.

From this tradition we can imagine that the Florentine historical football derives, of which we have only certain sources at the end of 1400.

Even at the time, just like today, the players (called calcianti) were small celebrities, it was not unusual for them to play there were nobles, or even future popes.
This game lasted until the middle of 1700, when a decline led to the disappearance of the event for two centuries!!!!

Only towards the middle of 1900 the city of Florence decided to bring back to life the celebration of this game which is now a real tradition!

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How does the game work?

The city is divided into 4 teams according to their respective neighborhoods:
Red – Santa Maria Novella
Green – San Giovanni
Blue – Santa Croce
White – Holy spirit

As was the case in the beginning the meeting is celebrated in Piazza Santa Croce, which from the beginning of May begins to change its appearance with the steps and the sand that fills the whole square.
The field is divided into two parts by a white line and the calcianti, 27 per team, will have the task of bringing the ball to the bottom of their half on purpose.

The game begins with the ball launching by the Pallaio.
Whichever means is allowed to the players of each team to bring the ball in the opposite net and score the goal, called “hunting”. At each point the two teams will have to alternate in the field. At the end of the 50 ‘game will win the team that will have scored the most points.

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But besides the whole event and the beauty of the historical re-enactment, what is the prize for the winning team ?!
Even the award has a Florentine flavor and we keep the tradition of what was donated in the past few centuries to the winning team, the trophy in question is a Chianina calf.

Once the meat was a privilege of few today is used more as a symbol, to the calcianti of the winning team is given a dinner, obviously based on steak!

Curiosity: Think a few games of historical football have been played on special occasions in other cities, such as Rome, Lyon and even New York!


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