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The Calcio Storico Fiorentino in Florence

2022: Calcio matches return in person this June!

June is one of the best months to find yourself in Florence, as it can be a lot of fun to watch the semi-final games for the Calcio Storico or the final match played on June 24, on Florence's patron saint's feast day for St. John the Baptist. This 2021, the tournament has been moved to September! For those that can't see it in person, the viewing rights have been given to an international network so that the match can be viewed across the world. Details further down this page...

What is Calcio Storico?

The Calcio Storico Fiorentino is a combination of soccer, rugby and big time wrestling originated in 16th century Florence and played today in historical costume. The four teams of the historical neighborhoods of the city play against each other, first in two semi-finals and then the final match to determine the winner.

The four teams are: Santa Croce (Azzurri, or Blues), Santo Spirito (Bianchi, or Whites), Santa Maria Novella (Rossi, or Reds), and San Giovanni (Verdi, or Greens).

Piazza Santa Croce, located directly in front of the church Santa Croce,  has always been the home to this game, known as “giuoco del calcio fiorentino” or more simply just as Calcio (which means “kick” in Italian). The square is covered in dirt to "return" to those times when it was just a dirt square (today it is covered in stone) and recreate the setting. Of course, today bleachers are also set up so that spectators can better enjoy the game.

The official rules of the Calcio Storico were first published in 1580 by Giovanni de’ Bardi, a Florentine count. Invented by rich aristocreats, Calcio was originally just played by just the higher social class and took place every night between Epiphany and Lent. Just like Roman harpastum, it was played in teams of 27 and both feet and hands were used. Goals can be scored by throwing the ball over a designated spot on the perimeter of the field with another goal running the width of the short ends. There is a main referee, six linesmen and a field master. Each game is played out for 50 minutes with the winner being the team with the most points or “cacce” scored.

Want to know what the game means for a "calciante" or Calcio player? Read my interview of Fabrizio Vallero, a "calciante" for the Bianchi of Santo Spirito to find out.

The prize for the winning team? A Chianina calf!!

Who plays who for the semi-finals? The teams are decided on Easter Sunday by drawing painted balls, see photo below.

The Dates

Over a weekend in early June, the two semifinals are played between the four teams. The two winners will then play against each other in the final match, which is always played on June 24th (at 5pm) in grand style on Florence’s feast day for its patron saint, St. John the Baptist. On this day, a splendid parade in historical costume starts in Piazza Santa Maria Novella and heads through the center on its way to Piazza Santa Croce. Each of the four districts is in the parade, you’ll see the players going by as they go to play the final, even those that won’t be playing the last match. The parade starts roughly around 4pm since the final should start around 5pm. Just head downtown, you’ll run into the fun!

The day ends with a spectacular fireworks show launched from Piazzale Michelangelo that can be watched along the Arno's banks. Of course, 2020 and 2021 meant no fireworks because of the pandemic but we are hopeful as the date draws near that the fireworks will be confirmed for 2022.

Calcio Storico Fiorentino 2022

On Easter Sunday during the Scoppio del Carro event, the draw for Calcio Storico was held to decide who plays against whom on the semi-final dates. In 2022, the Calcio Storico games will once again be held with an in-person public, after a year with no tournament and another with only one game where only a select public was allowed.

The dates of the semi-final matches are to be confirmed over the next few weeks. The weekend for the semi-finals is to be June 11 and 12th, but this year, elections are to be held on a national referendum on Sunday, June 12th. So it is still uncertain whether to maintain the semi-final game on Sunday or to move the dates for the games to Friday, June 10 and Saturday, June 11. Also who plays whom on each day is to be determined.

What we can say for certain is that the Azzurri of Santa Croce will play against the Bianchi of Santo Spirito on one day, and then the Verdi of San Giovanni will play against the Rossi of Santa Maria Novella on the other semi-final. If the dates are maintained for Saturday and Sunday, the Azzurri and Bianchi will play on Saturday, the Verdi and Rossi on Sunday. I'll update this page as soon as I read official information on what is what!

Just remember that the final is always on June 24th, between whoever wins each of the two semi-finals!

TICKETS

Because of the uncertainty with dates for the semi-finals, no information has been given out on where and when tickets will be sold either for the semi-finals or final. I'll also update this as soon as I see information on the matter.

Watch on internet or TV

Once again this year, anyone can get a front row seat to the Calcio Storico games by watching online (pay-per-view) or on TV (locally on Toscana TV, channel 18). For global audiences, Indiana Production won the international rights for streaming and to create documentaries or other videos. More information on where you can see the event as soon as I see it. While watching online or on TV isn't the same thing as being at the game in person, you can enjoy Calcio Storico Fiorentino from the comfort of your own home if you can't make it to Florence this June.

Last update: April 20, 2022


Author: Lourdes Flores

I'm from California but have called Florence my home for over a decade. I love to explore Italy; it is a lot of fun to try to see everything like I'm seeing it for the first time, keeping you, our readers, always in mind. I enjoy sharing what I know and helping others as they make their travel plans for Tuscany through our Forum. If you have itinerary-related questions, please post them there!



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