Florentine Calcio Storico and the siege match

Florentine Calcio Storico and the siege match

The most memorable football match in period costume was played during the days of the siege of Florence, on the 17th of February 1530, during the Carnival weeks, to mock the sieging imperial forces, showing that life went on as usual in town. «On the 17th (of February) the Youngsters – says Benedetto Varchi in his Storia Fiorentina – in order not to interrupt the ancient custom of playing football during the Carnival period every year, and - even more - to mock their enemies, played a football game in period costume in Piazza Santa Croce; 27 of them were dressed in white, and 27 in green, with a heifer as a prize».

The chosen playing field was Piazza Santa Croce, so that the enemy could see and hear: the musicians from the City had even climbed onto the roof of the Basilica, and accompanied the phases of the match with trumpet and drum playing. This obstentatious challenge angered the Imperial forces and «from Giramonte a cannon was fired; the ball, however, ended high up and harmed nobody». Varchi does not mention how the match ended, and how won the heifer, possibly in order to “associated winners and losers in a single praise”, as one of the greatest calcio storico experts, Luciano Artusi, once wrote.
In actual fact somebody did win the battle. An anonymous journal in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence (Magliabechiano, XXV, 555) attributes the victory to «those dressed in green»: this testimony, however, was unpublished until a few years ago, and in the silence of the sources the legend was created of that match, which - since 2013 - has been commemorated by “50 minuti” – an association of former Calcio Storico celebrities – with a show match in Piazza Santa Croce.

Bibliography and sources:

L. Artusi – R. Semplici – L. Giannelli, Il corteo della Repubblica Fiorentina. L’assedio e il calcio fiorentino 1529-1530, Firenze, Scramasax, 2002, pp. 30-31.

Alessandro Monti, L’assedio di Firenze (1529-1530). Politica, diplomazia e conflitto durante le Guerre d’Italia, Pisa, University Press, 2015, pp. 199-200.
Benedetto Varchi, Storia Fiorentina, Firenze, Salani, 1963, vol.II, p. 37.

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