Learn Italian Through Football Shirts: Lesson One

Serie A has provided some of the very best examples of Sartorial Soccer style and elegance.

Football shirts are an international language all of their own but we’ve stumbled on the wide vocabulary Italian supporters have for their Calcio kits through old Subbuteo catalogues and our friends at Calcio England.

So why not take the opportunity to improve yourself and to impress friends and future romantic conquests, with lesson number one of our football shirt language school.

Now repeat after me . . .

“Piena”

Translates to English as “full” these are plain shirts in a single block colour like the classic Napoli, Torino and Azzurri jerseys of the Italian national side.

Giacinto Facchetti, Azzurri, Calcio, Italia
Giacinto Facchetti in the Azzurri of the Italian national side

“Bordata”

Descriptive of designs where the collars and cuffs’ trim are in a secondary colour.

As traditionally used by the likes of AS Roma and Lazio.

AS Roma, Barilla, Ennerre, Maglia, Kit
A 1980s AS Roma shirt by Ennerre

“Palata”

From Milan and Internazionale, to Juventus and Udinese, Serie A’s most famous strips have come in stripes.

Juventus, Sivori, Charles, Boniperi
The “Magical Trio” of Sivori, Charles and Boniperi in Juve’s famous black and white stripes

Now if you want to get technical you could go for Striata or Vergata versions, or the pinstripe Gessata look of Hellas Verona.

Hellas Verona, Adidas, Canon
Preben Elkjær in the pin-striped 1980s Hellas Verona shirt

“Fasciata”

The glorious hoops of Celtic, Flamengo, Queens Park Rangers and this iconic Parma away shirt from the club’s halcyon days.

A shirt worn by a stupendously talented side including Cannavaro, Crespo, Chiesa, Veron, Thuram, Asprilla and Dino Baggio.

Parma, Calcio, Lotto
The late ’90s Parma hoops by Lotto

“Corpetto”

Loosely translated as “vest,” these are shirts with their main body in one colour and the sleeves in another, much like those of Arsenal, Hibernian and this Chievo top from Italian manufacturers Givova.

Chievo Verona, Givova, Home, Maglia
Oh Givova!

“Sbarra”

Italians have more than one word to describe shirts with a sash, with a distinction made between those that start on the left shoulder, and those that start on the right.

The Sbarra (meaning “bar”) sash runs from left to right like those from Peru, River Plate and this early 1990s bipartita (two colours) Venezia shirt by Diadora.

Venezia, Diadora, Vintage, Maglia, 1990s
Venezia’s distinctive early 1990s Sbarra sash

“Banda”

The Banda version of the sash therefore moves from the right shoulder to the left hip like those occasionally worn by the good ol’ USA.

Of course we don’t need to tell you about the Bandata Bipartita which has two colours like this stylish Palermo away shirt by Puma.

Palermo, Serie A, Calcio, Maglia, Puma
A Palermo away shirt with sash running from right shoulder

“Partita”

Describes shirts where colours are divided straight down the middle like the halved shirts of Grasshoppers and Cagliari.

Cagliari, Macron, 2019-20
This Cagliari jersey is a prime example of a Partita shirt

The Contropartita also swaps the sleeve colours over, as seen with most of Genoa and Blackburn Rovers’ shirts.

Genoa, Saiwa, Errea
A classic Genoa shirt by Errea

“Rialzata”

Italian for “raised” this describes shirts with a wide central stripe, as most famously worn by Ajax, in a look also described as “con palo” (“with pole”).

This 1970s Udinese shirt by Italian brand Pouchain is a classic Serie A example.

Udinese, 1979, maglia, zebra, pouchain
Udinese’s classic 1970s shirt, complete with Zebra crest

Not to be confused with the Rialzata con Filetto (“raised with thread”), as worn by Paris St Germain, which brings a third colour to the mix either side of the central stripe.

“Bendata”

Describes a band, or more literally bandage of colour running across a shirt like those of Boca Juniors and Middlesborough. This look is also known as con fascia.

Boca Juniors, Quilmes, Nike
Boca’s band of gold

A derivative of this is the multi-coloured Cerchiata circular hoops as seen on the shirts of Sampdoria.

Sampdoria, Blucerchiati, ERG, Asics
The Blucerchiati of Sampdoria

“Inquartata”

A look that’s possibly more famous in Rugby Union, these are the quartered shirts of Bristol Rovers and Rimini.

Rimini, Maglia, Lotto
Rimini’s home colours are red and white quarters

“Scaccata”

The chequerboard style seen on the shirts of Croatia, Boavista and more latterly Barcelona.

Boavista, BLK
Boavista’s black and white chequerboard shirt

“Coda di Rondine”

Where in English we may say Brescia’s shirts feature a large chevron, the Italians use the far more prosaic term of “swallowtail.”

Brescia, Uhlsport, CAB, Serie A, maglia
A 1992 vintage Brescia shirt with “swallowtail” chevron by Uhlsport

“Crociata”

Translating as “crusade,” the relative rarity of a footballing cross, made famous by Parma and also previously used by Inter Milan for their centenary shirts.

Inter Milan, crociata, centenary, Nike, cross, st george
Inter’s centenary shirt is a classic example of the crociata style of shirt

“Losangata”

The diamond-cut madness of the Losangata comes from the world of heraldry and has a semi-mythical quality.

We were unsure if we would ever see a true representation of this chivalrous looking style until Vissel Kobe and Asics brought the look back this year.

We would dearly love to see more shirts like this from Asics!

We’ll be back with a 2nd lesson soon, but in the meantime, if you feel culturally enriched by this opening class in classic Calcio kits, then please share with a friend.

Grazie!

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