Piazza di Santa Croce

Santa Croce

This square was cleared in the Middle Ages to allow the faithful to gather when the church itself was full. In Savonarola's day, heretics were executed here. Such an open space inevitably found other uses, and from the 14th century it was often the colourful scene of jousts, festivals and calcio storico (historic football) matches. The city's 2nd-century amphitheatre took up the area facing the square's western end: Piazza dei Peruzzi, Via de' Bentaccordi and Via Torta mark the oval outline of its course.

Still played in this square in the third week of June each year, calcio storico is like a combination of football and rugby with few rules (headbutting, punching, elbowing and choking are allowed, but sucker-punching and kicks to the head are forbidden).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santa Croce attractions

1. Basilica di Santa Croce

0.05 MILES

The austere interior of this Franciscan basilica is a shock after the magnificent neo-Gothic facade enlivened by varying shades of coloured marble. Most…

2. Fondazione Casa Buonarroti

0.13 MILES

Though Michelangelo never lived in Casa Buonarroti, his heirs devoted some of the artist’s hard-earned wealth to the construction of this 17th-century…

3. Museo Horne

0.14 MILES

One of the many eccentric Brits who made Florence home in the early 20th century, Herbert Percy Horne bought and renovated this Renaissance palazzo, then…

4. Fondazione Zeffirelli

0.19 MILES

Opera buffs will adore this museum celebrating more than seven decades of work by the late, internationally renowned, Florence-born film director Franco…

5. Museo del Bargello


It was behind the stark walls of Palazzo del Bargello, Florence's earliest public building, that the podestà (governing magistrate) meted out justice from…

6. Badia Fiorentina

0.22 MILES

Delve into Florence of the past in this historic 10th-century abbey hidden in the city centre. Pop by in time for its daily choral service at 5.30pm, or…

7. Gucci Garden

0.24 MILES

Elegantly housed in 14th-century Palazzo della Mercanzia, Gucci Garden is an all-out whimsical ode to the Florentine fashion giant. The practically…

8. Palazzo Vecchio

0.26 MILES

This fortress palace, with its crenellations and 94m-high tower, was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio between 1298 and 1314 for the signoria (city government…