Florence and the Hystoric soccer: The "King of Sports" is Born
Costumed Football was originally played during the military campaigns in ancient Greece, both as entertainment and training for soldiers. They had fun and in the meantime they exercised their muscles before the battle. The game arrived later to the Italic Peninsula, specifically to Florence in 59 b.c, and became immediately popular among the Roman Soldiers that dominated the city. They followed the same rules as the Greek game, just changing the Greek name from “Episciro” into the Latin name “Haspastum”
During the Renaissance the game greatly entertains the Florentine aristocrats, still playing with the same rules from the ancient Greeks. Initially the playing field is a giant sand pit of 80 x 50 meters. Piazza Santa Croce was the football field, covered with sand, where the two teams composed of athletic young men used to play the game. The players, “calcíanti,” were 27 per team, so there were 54 men playing a match using both their hands and feet in a sort of greco-roman fight that later on would become what nowadays we know as football and rugby.
In 1580 the Florentine count Giovanni Bardi published the official rules of calcio, in order to give proper form to that game that was absolutely integrated in Florentine’s life. By then, matches were 50 minutes long, and as it happens today the winner team was the one able to score more “caccie” (goals) during the game time.
The last match of “calcio fiorentino” was celebrated in 1739, ceasing the tradition until 1898. In 1898 when English football begins to succeed , the city of Florence decided to revive the traditional “calcio storico” , and they kept the tradition until the present days. Some centuries later we are able to see the recreation of those shows, mixing game and sports competition, so loved by the Renaissance Florentines aristocrats. Both the aesthetics and rules of the game didn't change through time, and in the XXI Century there are four teams playing each match, representing the historical quarters of the city (San Giovanni, Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella, Santo Spirito)
Enjoying one of this matches in Piazza Santa Croce is a fascinating event that you shouldn’t miss, if you are so lucky of being in Florence next June. The most important matches are played the 24th. The colorful parade with characters dressed as the nobles players of the XVI Century also characterizes this tradition. The meeting point is at 04.00 p.m in Piazza Santa Maria Novella where the parade begins in direction to Piazza Santa Croce surrounded by fanfares and drumbeats.
For more information about it i would like also to post a link of a good travel guide for Italy and Tuscany Italy Travel Guide