Learn Italian Through Football Shirts: Lesson III – More Colours!

Welcome to the 3rd part of our crash course in classic Serie A styling, cunningly disguised as an Italian language school.

As you’ll know from Part Two, Italian football clubs’ nicknames are often based on their famous colours, and with such a variety on show; that gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase more classic Calcio styling whilst “improving ourselves” a little along the way.

Once again, repeat after me . . .


Plenty of football fans across the globe have a fondness for the purple (Viola) shirts of Florence’s finest, Fiorentina.

Legend has it that long before those 7-Up and Nintendo sponsored shirts we still crave from the 1990s came to be, those distinctive La Viola kits came about as the result of a laundry mishap when their red and white halved shirts were washed in a local river and their colours faded to purple.

Whether you believe that or not, we can’t help but think of a roaring Gabriel Batistuta firing finger pistols at the crowd when we see any purple football shirt.

Fiorentina, Viola, Nintendo, Fila, shirt, Batistuta
La Viola Vintage


Cagliari and Genoa share the same red (rosso) and blue (blu) colours, although you’ll know from Lesson One, that their partita (halved) shirts are often a little different in style.

Founded by English expats in 1893, Genoa are Italy’s oldest surviving football club and affectionately known as Il Vecchio Balordo (The Old Fool).

Genoa, Errea, maglia, Serie A
A vintage Genoa shirt from Italian brand Erreà

Cagliari on the other hand, hail from the island of Sardinia, which gives them another nickname, gli Isolani (Islanders).

That badge of theirs with the four Moors’ heads comes from the flag of Sardinia and is steeped in hundreds of years of history, having been passed between various rulers of the island from the Aragonese to the House of Savoy.

One legend states that the design dates back to 1096 and the Battle of Alcoraz, when St George himself came from nowhere to help the forces of Aragon defeat four Saracen kings, who’s severed heads were left behind after the battle.

But of course you already knew all that.

Cagliari, Umbro, Home, Maglia, Classic, football, calcio, shirt
A classic Cagliari shirt from the days of Channel 4’s Football Italia


Be careful now.

On first glance, you may be forgiven for thinking we’re repeating ourselves and have duplicated Milan’s famous Rossoneri.

Yet further demonstrating the rich diversity of colours in Italian football, we come to Palermo’s individual Rosa (pink) and Nero (black) kits.

Palermo started out in halved Rossoblu shirts before switching to the “colours of the sad and the sweet” between 1905 and 1907, with the new look described by a founding member as being perfect for a team with “results as up and down as a Swiss clock.”

Real men wear pink as they say.

Palermo, Lotto, Maglia, football shirt, 2007-08
Palermo’s 2007-08 home shirt by Lotto


The Granata of Torino’s nickname refers to the maroon coloured shirts of the club who ruled Italian football in the 1940s until the tragedy of the Superga air disaster of 1949.

A derivative of that sobriquet is Il Vecchio Cuore Granata (The Old Maroon Heart) and for our money, this classic 90s design is a perfect example of their shirts.

Il Toro (the bull) were sponsored then, as they are today by Beretta, an Italian meat producer not to be confused with the firearms manufacturer of the same name.

Torino, Beretta, Malia, ABM, 1991-93
Torino’s 1991-93 shirt by ABM


As we covered in lessons one and two, Italian football clubs always looks great in stripes and we love the array of colours you can find paired with black (nero).

Relative newcomers to Serie A having risen through the lower leagues of Italian football in the past couple of decades, Sassuolo’s shirts may not have that irresistible nostalgic draw of some others on our list, but the black and greens (Neroverdi) are no less beautiful.

Sassuolo, Neroverdi, Kappa, kit, shirt, maglia
Oooh, Sassy


The grey (grigio) and red colours of Cremonese were among the most captivating and memorable from those Sundays in front of the TV watching Football Italia.

The colours actually come from the coat of arms of their home city of Cremona and with nothing quite like them in English football, those exotic, Grigiorossi shirts drew us further in to a love affair with Serie A.

Assolutamente splendido!

Cremonese, Moncart, Uhlsport, calcio, football shirt, kit, 1990s
A classic early ’90s Cremonese shirt by Uhlsport


OK, let’s break this down and take it step by step!

Venezia’s distinctive orange (arancia), black (nero) and green (verde) colours came about following the merger of two clubs from the lagoon in the 1980s.

Gli Arancioneroverdi’s polo style 2020-21 away shirt is the latest in a wonderful series of shirts bestowed upon I Leoni Ałati (the winged lions) by Nike.

Venezia, away, shirt, Nike, 2020-21
Venezia’s 2020-21 away shirt by Nike

If you feel culturally enriched by this class in the classic colours of Italian football, then please share with a friend and follow us through the links below!


Serie A, Fiorentina, Milan, Sampdoria, International, Juventus, shirts
Classic Serie A shirts and colours

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