In Florence Today! St. John & Historic Soccer

It’s a fun-filled day here in Florence with history, pageantry and spectacle! This morning started with the religious procession honoring St. John the Baptist. Beginning in Piazzetta di Parte Guelfa to the Duomo to pick up additional participants, then to Piazza Signoria by via Caiuroli. Part of the group entered the Palazzo Vecchio to pick up candles while the sbandieratori (flag-throwers) entertained the crowd with their skills outside. The Procession continued, tracing their steps back to the Duomo for the candle ceremony followed by Mass.

There’s another, larger parade this afternoon starting at 4pm at Piazza Santa Maria Novella and ending at Piazza Santa Croce. This parade includes the Calcio Storico Fiorentino (aka Florentine Football) players and is followed by the final match of 2016 at 5pm. While researching my book, Food and Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals,  the American television shown 60 minutes on CBS featured a clip on this historical and brutal sport (scroll down for a link to the clip). It’s called Calcio, the Italian word for soccer, but is it really? It looks more like a mix of soccer, football, rugby and mixed martial arts slugged out on the sand-filled square of Piazza Santa Croce

9076330480_79e2e2b777_zOriginating in the 16th century, it was once the sport of rich nobles who played every night between Epiphany and Lent. Official rules were drafted and recorded in a Florentine court in 1580 by Giovanni de’ Bardi. Team members from four quartiere (neighborhood) in Florence take this quite seriously. The neighborhoods and their colors are:

  • Blues (Azzurri) – Santa Croce
  • Rossi (Reds) – Santa Maria Novella
  • Whites (Bianchi) – Santo Spirito
  • Greens (Verdi) – San Giovanni

9587293798_bc95cd98fb_bTwenty seven players on each team are half-clad in historical uniforms for the occasion. Each neighborhood is allowed to recruit players from outside the neighborhood and even outside of Italy. There are two semifinals played two weeks before the final on June 24th of each year, which coincides with St. John the Baptist day. Who plays who in the semifinals is decided Easter weekend when colored balls are drawn to determine the semi-final match ups. This year’s final (tonight) features the blues (azzurri) against the whites (bianchi). Tickets sold out in 10 minutes flat!

P1030452Hands and feet can be used, anything goes except sucker punches and ganging up on your opponent; strictly one on one combat – and if you are kicked out – no replacements are allowed, your team plays short of members. A goal (caccia) is scored by hurling the ball over the netting at each end of the sand playing field through a narrow opening guarded by 4 goal tenders. At the end of 50 minutes, the most goals wins! What does the winning team get for their blood, guts and glory? A palio (banner) and a free dinner; in the past it was a Chianina cow. There is no monetary compensation for the winners, only bragging rights for a year. The festivities will conclude this evening at 10 pm with a spectacular fireworks show over the Arno.

A film to be released on September 16, 2016 Lost in Florence (working title was The Tourist), featuring actor Brett Dalton of the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He plays a college football player who joins in on the action of the Calcio Storico Fiorentino and becomes embroiled in both love and love of the sport.

Lisa M. Vogele is the author of Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals,  a travel reference guide that “helps you go local” by incorporating festivals into your travel planning. You can find out more information  at Lisa’s Travel Guides

IN THE NEWS

60 Minutes Video about the Calcio Storico Fiorentino

PHOTO CREDITS

All parade photos by Lisa M. Vogele
Calcio Players Romana Correale via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Calcio Field Piazza Santa Croce alexandraalisa via Foter.com / CC BY

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These aren’t your father’s anchovies!

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Fried Seafood in a Cone from Take Away Friggatoria il Pescato Cucinato in Riomaggiore

Every third Saturday in June is the Sagra dell’Acciuga Fritta in Monterosso al Mare, Liguria. Yesterday was the scheduled event, however due to bad weather and lack of fish, it was postponed. Bad news for locals and travelers who were hoping to attend, but mother nature could be working in my favor since I will be there next weekend and I am hoping to “catch it.”13307192_653649474786560_6643499018188605037_n

If you’ve grown up in the United States, like I have, your idea of anchovies is a bunch of salty, smelly fish packed in oil and stored for god knows how long. They come on top of your pizza or caesar salad and that’s about the only time you see them. On the Ligurian coast of Tuscany, anchovies are a whole lot different. I discovered this last year when I participated in the Mangialonga Levanto with friends Ann & Robin. Anchovies were one of the menu items and it was the food I thought I would like the least, but much to my surprise, enjoyed the most! They are served a variety of different ways but the local friggatorie shops make enjoying them a quick and easy meal mixed with other seafood and french fries.

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Take Away Il Pescato Cucinato in Riomaggiore

Monterosso al Mare is part of the chain of five, seaside villages known as the “Cinque Terre.” Located in the Italian province of Liguria, the population of the Cinque Terre swells in the summer when tourists from all over the globe come to view it’s charming villages and natural beauty. Liguria boast 25 “blue flag” beaches (blue flags are used to designate a high quality, clean sea). The Ligurian coasts is dotted with many seaside villages accessible by train or car and also home to the area known as the Italian Riviera.

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Sharing Seafood and Wine with Friends

Excellent “Take away” Friggatorie (fried food shops)dot the Ligurian Coast and serve freshly caught and fried seafood in a cone. Go on, give ’em a try; these aren’t your fathers anchovies!

Check Pro Loco Monterosso Facebook for updates on the rescheduling of the festival.

Lisa M. Vogele is the author of Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals,  a travel reference guide that “helps you go local” by incorporating festivals into your travel planning. You can find out more information  at Lisa’s Travel Guides

Photo Credits:

All Photos by Robin Russo

Il Pescato Cucinato – Via Colombo 199
19017 Riomaggiore, Province of La Spezia
Italy

Amalfi Hosts Historical Regatta this Weekend

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The Regatta when held along the banks of the Arno in Florence

This Sunday June 12th will be the 61st Regatta of the maritime Republics (la Regata delle Repubbliche Marinare). Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice compete each year to win the gold and silver trophy made by the Goldsmith School in Florence (Scuola Orafa Fiorentina). The regatta rotates between each of the four ancient maritime powerhouse cities, with Amalfi hosting in 2016.

Venice has dominated in the most recent competitions, winning the last three years in a row. Venice also won the first one in 1956 in Pisa. The race consists of one team from each city with eight rowers and a coxswain. Half of the eight person team must be residents of the city they represent and the other half must be residents of the province in which the city is located. They race along the Tyrhennian coastline for two kilometers to the finish line. The Tyrhennian Sea is the area of the Mediterranean along the west coast of Italy.

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The Amalfi Coast between Positano and Amalfi

A parade through Amalfi including each team will precede the race event. The parade includes a group from each city with medieval-clad flag bearers, noblemen, commoners, drummers, and of course, the rowers. The beautiful Amalfi Coast is a popular tourist destination in the Campania region of Italy that was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and classified as a cultural landscape.

Lisa M. Vogele is the author of Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals; available now through your local bookstore or amazon.com (Amazon Link to Book).  More information on Lisa and the book can be found at Lisa’s Travel Guides.

Photo credits:

The Race in Florence: https://www.flickr.com/photos/efandorin/3593288188/
The Banner of la Regata delle Repubbliche Marinare: ell brown via Foter.com / CC BY
The Woman in Black: https://www.flickr.com/photos/efandorin/3593298066/
The Woman with Flowers: https://flic.kr/p/6twpiQ
The Amalfi Coast between Positano and Amalfi: jimmyharris via Foter.com / CC BY

FOOD & FOLKLORE Now Available!

I am very happy to announce that the first book in the Food & Folklore series is now available in paperback on Amazon.com. A kindle version will be available shortly.

Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals is available by ordering through amazon.com.  Click here to buy it on Amazon.com nowA great buy if you are planning a trip to Italy or as a gift for someone else who is. $9.95 + applicable taxes and shipping.Food & Folklore   A Year of Italian Festivals (Front Cover)

Food & Folklore:   A Year of Italian Festivals

This fun travel reference guide helps travelers incorporate local Italian food & folklore festivals into their trip planning and enjoy local, authentic experiences. Whether you have traveled to Italy before or looking forward to your first trip, this guide will make you positively hungry for Italy!

A listing of over 450 festivals focusing on local foods and historical folklore is provided as a starting point to a local adventure. Learn some fun facts about each region of Italy, how to effectively search for festivals, tips for attending festivals and a highlighted festival for each region. A simple glossary of keywords and a cross reference index of food festivals are included.

The Lisa’s Travel Guides website is up and running as the home for publications and events. I will continue to write Lisa Love’s to Travel (almost) weekly as the companion blog to the travel guides filled with fun festival ideas. If you’d like join the mailing list for announcements of events and future publications you can sign up HERE, follow me on twitter @travelwithlisa or watch my blog!

Enjoy!

Lisa’s Travel Guides

Order Food & Folklore: A Year of Italian Festivals on Amazon.com