by Silvia Messeri
photos: Sandro Pintus

The Historic Florentine Football Game
Its origins

The origins of the historic Florentine football game, at least those recorded with any precision, date from February 17th 1530 when Florence was besieged by Charles V's Imperial troups.

People in the procession in the
old city centre
This was when a game was played in Piazza Santa Croce between the White and the Green teams, as a sign of contempt and provocation towards the enemy.

Marquis Pucci with the extras
before the match
A sport with similar characteristics, called "Arpasto", is known to have been popular among the Roman legionaries in ancient Florence; the game does in fact use the same pattern as that employed for the battle order of the Roman army. In the 1500's, it was usually played in the major Forentine squares, like Piazza Santo Spirito, Piazza Santa Maria Novella and Piazza Santa Croce. A field of sand was spread over the site chosen for the four teams to meet; these were the Green, Red, White and Blue teams who represented the Florentine quarters of the period: San Giovanni, Santa Maria Novella, Santo Spirito and Santa Croce.

People in the procession in
Piazza S.Croce before the match
The matches were played at Carnival time or on special occasions; the game itself, which was very rough, was played by the young nobles who wanted to show off their prowess in order to win the love of the noble ladies of Florence. The tradition of playing these historic football matches continued almost without interruption until the 18th century and then was abandoned until 1930. Since then, three games are regularly played every year between the end of June, during the feast of St. John, the patron saint of Florence, and the beginning of July. See also: Right on time as usual the Historic Florentine Football Game

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