While the 2014 FIFA World Cup is under way in Brazil, a one-of-a-kind soccer tournament is about to take over Florence: the Calcio Storico Fiorentino (historic Florentine soccer).
On June 14 and 15 four teams representing the neighborhoods of Florence will compete in the semi-finals to determine which teams will be playing the final, to be held on June 24.
The four team are the "Whites" of Santo Spirito, the "Blue" of Santa Croce, the "Red" of Santa Maria Novella and the "Green" of San Giovanni. The Azzurri play the Bianchi on June 14, while the Green play the Red on June 15. The event is held in Piazza Santa Croce.
The Calcio Storico Fiorentino is thought to have originated in the 16th century in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, where it became known as “giuoco del calcio fiorentino”, or simply “calcio”, the Italian word for soccer. At the time, teams featured members of aristocratic families.
Today, the Calcio Fiorentino is played wearing the costumes of the 16th century as an homage to an important historical event of Florentine history: on February 17, 1530, the population of Florence, which had been under the siege of Emperor Charles V’s troops for months, began playing a game of soccer in Piazza Santa Croce, completely ignoring the troops to launch the message that they were not worthy of attention.
The Calcio Storico Fiorentino is quite a fierce game, almost resembling rugby more than modern-day soccer: “a ruthless competition over a large ball, featuring hard body blows, fierce attacks, and many tangled limbs as players pass the ball from one teammate to another in search of a goal. Opponents snag, pull, and tackle them, often ripping the medieval costumes in the process, to prevent goals from happening” – read more about the game here.
It is an event beloved by the Florentines, and the Bandierai degli Uffizi, the official flag-waving group of the city who, last month, won the 21st edition of the prestigious Trofeo Marzocco, will be present during the event to show off their great flag-waving skills.
Watch the fantastic video below from the film "I calcianti" about the Calcio Storico Fiorentino: