This blog post was updated on October 29, 2018.
When I lived in Florence a few summer’s ago, I noticed the transformation of one its most beloved piazzas around the middle of June. Giant bleachers would go up in Piazza Santa Croce. Medieval pomp and circumstance swirled throughout the thick summer air. All of this activity signaled the beginning of one of Florence’s most deeply rooted traditions and events, Calico Storico Fiorentino.
Calcio Storico Fiorentino is part soccer, rugby, wrestling and in some respects what you would imagine medieval games to look like. Originated in the 16th century in Florence, the event consists of two matches and a final round. It features four teams from the four traditional neighborhoods of the city playing this version of soccer against one another. The four neighborhoods include Santa Croce, Santo Spirito, Santa Maria Novella and San Giovanni. This year’s matches will be held June 15th and 16th with the finale on the 24th. If you are in Europe this June, you might want to consider popping over the Florence to see this medieval spectacle. Here are a few reasons why Calcio Storico Fiorentino should not be missed.
It’s a deeply rooted tradition: Calcio Storico stems from the Medici dynasty in Florence. Around the time of Medici rule in the city, teams began playing each other, mostly comprised of the most powerful families in Florence. They would play their version of soccer throughout the Carnival season. By attending Calcio Storico Fiorentino, you can become a part of that history. As a reflection of its history, you can expect to see the players and the referees in true medieval dress.
Its location is one of a kind: It’s not every day that you can see an aggressive medieval style game in such a historic location. Calcio Storico Fiorentino takes place in Piazza Santa Croce, right in front of the church. For the matches, the square transforms into a battlefield with bleachers for spectators and a huge sandpit laid for the field. It is Florence’s form of time travel in June, where you will need to do a few double takes as to what century you are in while in this Renaissance location.
It’s not just about the game: Even if you can’t score tickets to observe one of the matches, Calcio Storico tends to bring the streets of Florence alive fore the month of June. The event doesn’t just involve the matches but also a historic parade before each game. Team members, drummers, flag wavers, locals and plenty of medieval costumes flood the streets of Florence. The parade marches from Santa Maria Novella and eventually winds up at Piazza Santa Croce. The procession presents prime people-watching moments and photo greatness.
Have you been to Florence’s Calcio Storico?
For more information on the event, visit the official website.
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