lunedì 1 settembre 2014

Florence and Football in Costume

Calcio fiorentino

English version of "Firenze e il calcio storico"

Match Between Azzurri and Rossi
Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
Italy has a long history; at least since the birth of Rome onwards, our country has always had an important role, often in the foreground, in the European and world history. Florence has often been a key piece in the Italian history.
An important part of the history of Florence is linked to the Renaissance, a period in which the city has given the world masterpieces of art and literature. Those years at the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the years of transition from the Florentine Republic to the Duchy of Florence and then to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, are linked to a name, a family: the Medici.
Historical parade
(C) Simone Bonechi
And it is an episode of this period that is linked to the most important historical re-enactment that takes place in Florence: the tournament of Football in Costume.
We are in 1530; the Medici were expelled from the city three years before, new families drives the restored Florentine Republic. But the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V d’Asburgo and Pope Clement VII Medici agreed to return Florence under the control of the pope's family. The city is besieged by the imperial troops, which dominate the top of the surrounding hills, and the Florentines, supreme contempt for the enemy besieging, play a game of Calcio in Costume in Piazza Santa Croce.

Field in Piazza Santa Croce
(C) Simone Bonechi

Florence will surrender eventually, but this episode of pride and courage will remain in the history of the city and in the 1930s inspired the resurrection of the Calcio Storico. This football game was played in Florence since the time of Caesar's legionaries, founders of the city, and was continued with regularity until 1739, two years after the death of the last Medici Grand Duke. After nearly two centuries of decline, in 1930 it was reborn as a city’s reenactment, to celebrate the "game of the siege" that took place four hundred years before. Since then, the Florentine citizens young and old dress up in costumes, parades in the sixteenth century’s Historical Procession of the Florentine Republic or challenge themselves in the sand of the field as "kickers".
(C) Simone Bonechi
The tournament takes place in June, the weekend before the feast of St. John (June 24th), city’s patron saint and obviously the day of the big party. In two semifinals and a final, four team faces off, representing the historic districts of Florence: the Azzurri of Santa Croce, Bianchi from the Holy Spirit, the Greens of San Giovanni and Rossi from Santa Maria Novella. Each team consists of twenty-five players, dressed up in costume. Each match is officiated by a Judge Commissioner and Linesman dressed in livery.
The game lasts fifty minutes and looks like a sort of rugby game, where the players can touch the ball with both feet and hands, the physical strength matters much to force the barrage of opponents. Brawls often sparkle the field and it is common to see someone leaveing the field on a stretcher due to the violent exchange of punches and physical contacts. But this is part of the show (at least to some extent!).
The Florentines, proud of their past, like the Calcio in Costume and thousands of tourists discover and appreciate it every year along the city streets and on the steps of the Piazza Santa Croce, where the match is taking place for decades. The participants of the Corteo Storico are often called to represent Florence and make a contribution to historical events in Tuscany, in Italy and throughout the world.
A tradition alive and vibrant to which I am proud to be part of, since 1989, in the group of Fanti Palace.
Marco Andreghetti

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