For one day in a year, Florence becomes the epicenter of a sports frenzy. On June 24th, the day of Florence's patron St. John the Baptist, the city witnesses the final game of Famous Calcio Storico, a 16-th century football variety, played on one of the central city squares.
Calcio Storico combines soccer, rugby, and wrestling. It is also named Calcio in Costume, as the players must wear medieval costumes for the game, according to the tradition established in the 16th century. The tournament brings together four teams that represent the four historic districts of Florence, each defined by a particular color, namely green, red, white, and blue. The teams of 27 players fight for a victory, using both hands and feet for passing and controlling the ball.
During the game, Piazza Santa Croce turns into a fighting arena with 54 footballers passionately craving victory for their districts. Participants play for 50 minutes in two semi-finals, and then a final game during St. John the Baptist Feast.
On the day of the final, you can watch the parade in historical costumes, at around 4 pm. The procession ends at Piazza Santa Croce, in front of the beautiful Santa Croce cathedral. The final match starts at 5 pm. The winner is rewarded with a calf that symbolizes physical victory. In the evening, celebrations end with the spectacular fireworks set at the Piazzale Michelangelo, with the audience spreading along the banks of the Arno.