STUDY ABROAD Nicholas Signoriello specials in Florence
Il Museo del Calcio
by Nick Signoriello
For those of you who are soccer fans, specifically Azzurri fans, there is a great museum you need to see in Florence. Coverciano, a neighborhood in the northeast part of Florence, is home to the Italian national team’s training facility and historic museum.
If you happen to be in Florence for one of the weeks preceding a match for the Italian National team, I would suggest going to Coverciano to watch them practice and maybe even meet some of them. These are the stars thousands of people across the peninsula dream of meeting and we happen to have the great fortune of going to see them right in our backyard. Also, Coverciano is a relatively quiet part of Florence and the Museum isn’t usually too crowded. It gives you a chance to have a more personal experience when watching the team.
The Museum of Soccer outlines the entire history of the Azzurri. With rooms dedicated to the historical administration of the team, their World Cup participation, and even a special room dedicated to their most recent World Cup victory in 2006. The things that struck me most when I went into the first room were the uniforms and shoes the professionals wore in the early 1900s. The jerseys look a lot like thin Christmas sweaters and the cleats seem as if they would be impossible for someone in our time to run in, let alone kick a ball and dribble.
Also, the black and white pictures throughout the museum of the filled stadiums at the turn of the 20th century help you appreciate the long history of passion and love Italians have for soccer. Back then, before there were laws on how many people were allowed inside the stadium everyone crammed in like sardines. Things were certainly a lot different back then.
In Italy’s first ever International match, the Azzurri beat France 6-2 in Milan in 1910. At the end of the match, the 4,000 spectators threw packs of cigarettes on the field as a prize for all the players. In fact, some of the cigarette boxes belonging to the most famous players are still preserved in the museum with cigarettes that were never smoked.
As mentioned above, the Azzurri have a long and VERY successful history. Italy has won four World Cups—second only to Brazil with five victories. They won their first world title in 1934 and then again four years later in 1938. Italy chalked up another win in 1982 with stars like Dino Zoff, Paolo Rossi and Claudio Gentile, who famously shut down Diego Maradona in the final against Argentina. Italy then triumphed again recently in 2006 with an amazing showing from stars like Fabio Cannavaro, Francesco Totti, and Alessandro Del Piero. What I find extremely interesting about the last two World Cups is that both times Italy was facing major scandals regarding match fixing and betting scandals only months preceding the game, which created a shameful image of Italian soccer. However, both times they overcame and saved their reputation by winning the World Cup.
As you can tell, the history of the Italian National Team is one of the most respected in the world and in my opinion, also one of the most interesting. I feel fortunate that the Museum and training center that represents the national team is right here in our back yard in Florence. To get there, take bus 17 and exit at the last stop, Verga 01 or 02. It is only five Euro for admission and I highly suggest.