THE HISTORICAL SOCCER IN FLORENCE – JUN
More gladiatorial than sporting, the precursor of the ‘beautiful game’ in Italy was a ruthless brawl, designed to keep soldiers fit in between battles. The tradition began in the 15th century – although its earliest origins may have been in Roman times – and was revived in the 1930s.
Nowadays, three matches are played in Piazza Santa Croce, by teams drawn from Florence’s four major neighbourhoods, each wearing the representative colours of the district.
A parade arrives, headed by the district nobles on horseback.
Each match begins with the cry of ‘Viva Firenze!’ and continues for a full hour of continuous struggling and scuffling among players dressed in 15th-century costumes, before the magnificent church of Santa Croce.
The final match is played on June 24th, Saint John’s Day, when marvelous fireworks are displayed at night over the Arno river.