2021: Dates set for September!!
The tournament in 2020 was suspended, but this year dates have been set for September!
Update Sept. 8: the Rossi and Bianchi teams will not be participating in the games, so only a final match between the Azzurri and Verdi is planned. The tournament will be closed doors, so no public, and will be broadcast live on local regional channels (Toscana TV and Tele Iride) and online globally through the Live NOW platform and Eleven Sports (paid).
Azzurri- Verdi: September 11
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.
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.
Of course, for this 2021 special edition NONE of this applies, keep reading for more details below.
Calcio Storico Fiorentino 2021
The Rossi and Bianchi have decided to not play for this year's special edition, and thus the calendar set back in June for semi-finals the weekend of September 11-12 and finals on the 19th has changed! I throw up my hands in the air as a proper Italian does and say good riddance! All this communicated days before the matches were to be played.
What is happening? Only ONE game, a FINAL, is being played on September 11th at 5pm between the “Blues” of Santa Croce against the “Greens” of San Giovanni. It is CLOSED DOORS so no one can attend the game.
The "public" will be composed of about 300 members of the Corteo della Repubblica Fiorentina, the group that dresses and parades through the streets of Florence in period costumes. All with Green Pass, down from over 500 participants that are part of the society. They will NOT parade through the streets of Florence, they will only arrive into the piazza at around 4pm and perform a show by the flag throwers and musicians of the Bandierai degli Uffizi. After their exhibition, they will surround the field and will be the public "frame" allowed to watch the game in person, to give it some life for everyone who watches from home.
No tickets, as this year there will be no public/audience in the bleachers. To watch the match, you need to look to your TV or computer.
Watch on internet or TV, that's the only option
This year, everyone gets a front row seat to the Calcio Storico games by watching online (pay-per-view) or on TV (locally on Toscana TV and Tele Iride). For global audiences, you can watch the game on Eleven Sports or LIVEnow. While it isn't the same thing as being at the game in person, this year everyone can enjoy Calcio Storico Fiorentino from the comfort of your own home given the pandemic.... with the hope that 2022 will be different.
Last update: September 8, 2021