The historical Florentine football (or costume football) is a sport whose origins are dated back to the Middle Ages: basically this kind of football was born in 1500!

The official rules of this sport were published by Giovanni de’ Bardi. Originally, this sport was played only by the highest class, and it was held every night between Epiphany and Lent.

On the streets and on the Florentine squares, everyone talked about the so-called “football in Livrea” in those years. The most important and historic match of this Florentine tradition was played in the February of 1530 during the siege of Florence, both for dampen the custom of not playing during the Carnival and to defy the besieging enemy.

Florentine historical football continued until the 1700, but then it was no longer played by citizens for various reasons, mainly criticisms and discussions about its rules. The last game was played in 1739 in Piazza Santa Croce.

But the Florentine football reborn from its ashes in the early 1900s, where it returned one of the most appreciated Florentine traditions.

It’s a moment of great show, both for tourists and for Florentines themselves, because of its ancient ceremony and for the great show of the matches!

How many teams are playing the historic Florentine football?

There are 4 teams, each of them identified by a different color. Every team represent a neighbourhood of the historic centre of Florence:

  • white, for Santo Spirito
  • blue, for Santa Croce
  • red, for Santa Maria Novella
  • green, for San Giovanni

Historical Florentine football today

Today, everything is like in the Middle Ages. The tradition of Florentine football is carried forward generation after generation: wearing historical clothes, holding historical symbols of each neighbourhood, playing with historic ball in leather and reading the historical rules.

To be better understood, the game takes place in a field very similar to rugby, built in Piazza Santa Croce. There is a chief referee, six guards and a field master. Each game is played for 50 minutes. The purpose of the game is to bring the ball into “hunting” (some kind of goal)! In practice the ball must cross the end of the field and then pass the last opponent.

The rules are well defined, even though not so often respected. We can say that once in your life you have to attend this historic Florentine tradition. You will see a real show of history and rivalry between the Florentine neighbourhoods.