Football in Florence
Florence's football team is ACF Fiorentina. After a recent bankruptcy, relegation and a couple of name changes, Fiorentina moved back into Serie A, Italy's top division, in 2004. They play home matches at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, which is easily reachable from the centre of town by special buses on matchdays. Tickets to see Fiorentina play can be bought online in advance.
Watching a football match is good entertainment, and also a great introduction to Italian culture, passion and drama. Whether fans are whistling their own team, shrieking at the referee or singing heartrending anthems of loyalty, the atmosphere is never dull.
As football fans may know, the Italian national squad's training base is at Coverciano, close to Florence. For the dedicated fan, there is a museum there dedicated to football, the Museo del Calcio.
Centuries ago the Florentines played a team sport resembling a violent cross between football and rugby. The origins are lost in time, but the most celebrated game was one played on 17th February 1530 while Florence was under siege. After a lapse of nearly two centuries, the sport was revived in 1930.
This so-called calcio storico (historic football), or calcio in costume, is now a colourful pageant staged before eager tourists and preceded by costumed parades. The four-way tournament is played in June (on and around 24 June, the festival of Florence's patron saint, San Giovanni) and consists of three matches in which city districts compete with each other. There are 27 players on each side, and the game, dramatic and aggressive, is
played in Piazza Santa Croce on a bed of sand.