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Going to the Pope's general audience, dressed like 16th century soldiers

2014-06-02

They may look like Swiss Guards, but they are not. They're actually part of the so called 'Calcio Fiorentino' or Florence Soccer. It's a style that dates back to the 16th century and on special occasions, like this one, it comes back to life. 

And even though their uniforms may seem rather uncomfortable, they made it a point to wear them during the Pope's general audience. 

"We are happy that we came... It was an honor for us being so close to the Holy Father.”

The vivid colors represent a glorious past. In the 16th century, troops of Charles V wanted to attack Florence. But soldiers defeated them. Now years later, these costumes honor that battle.

"Back then in Florence there were two sets of troops: the city's regular soldiers and the  mercenaries. So the green band was a way to distinguish troops from Florence.” 

Every June, to mark the Feast Day of their patron Saint- St. John, they celebrate their city's victory, by playing a soccer match. They prize is quite unique.

"The award is actually a calf. Back then when the first match was played, it was wartime, so there was no food. Winning a calf was a great honor.”

When it was all said and done, they got to see Pope Francis. The annual tournament of 'calcio fiorentino' will soon take place and with it, the revival of a long standing tradition.


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