new movie set in Florence has been launched and this time with the Calcio Storico as background. I am talking about Lost in Florence, a romantic drama film directed and written by Evan Oppenheimer, well known for previous movies such as “A Little Game”, “The Speed of Thought”, “Alchemy”, “Justice” and “The Auteur Theory”.

The movie has as scenery the beautiful Piazza Santa Croce where the matches of the historical Florentine soccer called Calcio Fiorentino are played since the Renaissance. In this movie, we can discover the interesting aspect of the brotherhood in an ancient sport, which is really beloved by the Florentines and that still express the competition between the four Contrada of Florence.

Lost in Florence the movie

Eric is a former professional American football player, who is facing the refusal of the proposal by his fiancée Coleen during their visit to Anna (Eric’s cousin) in Florence. He is at a crossroads: begin again to play his beloved sport he had to suspend, or start a new chapter of his life applying for a law school. Thanks to Marco, (Anna’s husband) Eric got involved into the Calcio Storico, which is an amalgam of rugby, American football, and street fighting, played only in Florence. Here Eric discovers to have a natural talent for this sport, and its thanks to the Calcio Fiorentino that he meets Stefania, the girlfriend of Paolo, the team captain.

Somehow, Eric experiences the lifestyle and the atmosphere of the Calcio Storico, from the marvel of pageantry of the pre-game parade, to the debauched post-game revels, and the threats of those who think that, according to the rules, Eric should not play because he is not born in Florence nor has ten years of Florentine residence.

The acquaintance with Stefania turns into a loving affair, and when Paolo discovers the cheat, he felts betrayed not only by a friend but also by a “brother” in the Calcio Storico. Just to complicate things, Coleen arrives in Florence from the USA. The unexpected arrival forces Eric to face a new question, pushing him into a deep introspective journey. What matters most in his life? I invite you to discover Eric’s choice watching the movie (available on demand on Amazon Video, Google Play and iTunes and if you are an expat living in Italy the movie will be broadcasted by Sky TV in the next few months) and let yourself be seduced by this story set in the marvelous scenery of Florence.

The cast of Lost in Florence

The movie cast is composed by Brett Dalton (Eric Lombard,  aka Hercules or Ercole) who starred on Marvel’s “Agents of Shield” playing Agent Grant Ward, Alessandra Mastronardi (Stefania) who had been seen in the Woody Allen movie “To Rome with Love”, Stana Katic (Anna) that starred the role of Kate Beckett on “Castle”, and also played on “Quantum of Solace”, Alessandro Preziosi (Paolo) who appeared in numerous Italians films and TV shows, Emily Atack (Coleen) that performed in the British series “The Inbetweeners”, Marco Bonini (Gianni) already seen in “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “All roads leads to Rome”, and Rob Aramayo (Sal), who played the young Ned Stark on the fortunate series “The Games of Thrones”.

The Florentine Calcio Storico

The Florentine Calcio Storico is an ancient local game of the city of Florence, played during the period of Carnival. As happened in the past, even today the players, called Calciantiwear the traditional clothes with the colors of the neighborhood they represent and coat of arms of the noble families, generally used during solemn events such as royal weddings, and official visits of important figures as Popes, Grand Duchies, Cardinals or Bishops.

Open ceremony of Calcio Storico in Piazza Santa Croce – Photo Credits: Antonello Serino

If it is true that this game placed the foundations for the future game of football (or soccer), it is even true it looks more similar to rugby and American Football.

It takes origins from an ancient Greek ball game that was conveyed to the ancient Romans. Then, it spread along the Florentine streets during the Middle Age, becoming one of the favorite games of the people that they started to organize official tournaments in the city.

Today attending to a match of Calcio Storico means feeling the energy of the many fans of each Contrada. They have a strong and emotional bond with their neighborhood that they recognize themselves with the colors and the Calcianti of their team.

One of the most famous games in the history was played the 17 February 1530 in the pitch of Piazza Santa Croce. The Republic of Florence was under the siege of the troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor that were trying to reconquer the city and give it back to the Medici Family (that were banished years before). The Florentines, despite the hunger and the war, decided to celebrate the Carnival organizing a huge match of Calcio Storico. They chose Piazza Santa Croce as pitch because it was well visible by the soldiers camped on the hills of the other side of Arno River. They played at the rhythm of the music, mocking the enemies that, by contrast, shot with cannons against the people, fortunately with no consequences. (messinascatering) No one knows who won that match, but the Florentines demonstrated to the enemies to be still alive and ready to protect their city.

This episode well reflects some aspects that still distinguish the Florentines nowadays: they have a big sense of humor but even a touch of haughtiness and superiority towards the non-Florentines.

In the contemporary era, the Calcio Storico has been celebrating since 1930. Every June, the four neighborhood teams in their traditional clothes, Whites of Santo SpiritoReds of Santa Maria NovellaGreens of San Giovanni, and Blues of Santa Croce, challenge each other in two semi-finals (a draw establish the competitors of the matches). The two winning teams play the final every 24th June, the day of San Giovanni, the patron saint of Florence.

White Team of Santo Spirito
Red Team of Santa Maria Novella
Green Team of San Giovanni
Blue Team of Santa Croce

The Calcio Storico is a muscular and masculine game, where violence is part of its history. Every Calciante should play fair and follow the rules, and the winning team can proudly celebrate the title of champion. The players are all volunteers, they don’t get any fee, except for the honor, the gratitude of their contradaioli (contradas fellows), a dinner, a symbolic white heifer of Chianina race, and an embroidered tapestry given as a prize painted by a Florentine artist. The neighborhood standard is exposed for all year in the front of the Palagio di Parte Guelfa of Florence. So, it is only the passion that pushes these guys on playing this historical game, and it represents a big gesture of love and attachment to their city, and of proud to be Florentine.

Have you even seen a match of Calcio Storico? Have you already seen the movie Lost in Florence? Let us know leaving a comment.

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28 thoughts on “Calcio storico, a rough pitch for “Lost in Florence”

    • Edoardo says:

      Hello Chandi, the movie in the US has been released in January, but now is available on Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes. In Italy will be broadcasted by SKY in the next few months. A special screening will happen in Florence on Sunday 25th June, at Cinema La Compagnia, and is free entry while seats last.

  1. Hang Around The World says:

    Abbiamo visto il film in lingua originale sul pc e da amanti della storia e di Firenze in particolare non potevamo perderlo. Le tradizioni sono una delle cose che ci affascinano di più!

  2. Punita Malhotra says:

    Connecting movies to places one has seen is so enjoyable. This is such an interesting post specially since we visited Florence a few months back. This city is amazing.

  3. Medha Verma Bector says:

    Interesting read! I have never heard about the game or the movie to be honest but it’s really enlightening.

  4. Katherine Beveridge says:

    I never knew this game existed, but it’s certainly interesting. I love that they have maintained their tradition and continue to wear the traditional clothes.

  5. foreverroamingtheworld says:

    This would would be amazing to attend, I never knew about the game but as a massive ‘modern day’ soccer fan to see something like this would be incredible – thanks for educating us on this

  6. Lisa Rivera says:

    Ooh, I’ve heard of calcio storico, looks really brutal! I can’t even imagine taking part in something like this haha! The film looks really good, and honestly, Firenze is a good location for anything! Thank you for sharing.

  7. Clare says:

    I have never heard of Calcio Storico before and from the trailer it looks very violent. The film looks good though and maybe I will download and watch it. Florence is a beautiful city and I loved it when I visited it.

  8. Becca Talbot says:

    I’ve never been to Florence (hope to one day!), and I’ve never heard of Calcio Storico. I’m not sure it’s really my thing, but perhaps if there was a chance it was on when I visited, I might attend just for the experience x

    • Nicola - My Travel in Tuscany says:

      Florence is plenty of places to see and experience to do…I understand that Calcio Storico is not your cup of tea, I think that only Florentines are deeply into this games. We can be only spectators and like it or not. 🙂 I hope you can visit Florence soon, I am sure you will like it. 🙂

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