Calcio storico, a rough pitch for “Lost in Florence”
A 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 Calcianti, wear 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. 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 Spirito, Reds of Santa Maria Novella, Greens 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.