The best thing about Evan Oppenheimer's latest film "Lost in Florence", is the absolutely wonderful history lesson it offers for Florence tourism. In fact, it could easily be called a travelogue wrapped in a drama.


The film centers around a guy named Eric (Brett Dalton) an American vacationing with his girlfriend Colleen (Emily Atack) in Florence at his sisters place. Up his sleeve is a plan to propose marriage to Colleen; what he gets is a flat rejection and dumping as Colleen flies back to the United States without him. Heatrbroken and dejected, Eric's brother-in-law gets him involved in an ancient local sport called calcio storico which is only played in Florence.


As it turns out, Eric was almost a pro American Football play with a bright future ahead but is now quite good at this Italian version of football which allows for punching, tackling, head butts and you-name-it, except kicking in the head. The game is filled with old world pageantry and traditions though there is absolutely no financial reward. (The winning team used to get a chianina calf, but even that has been reduced to breakfast!)

While practicing and playing he meets Stefania (Alessandra Mastronardi) who is the girlfriend of teammate Gianni (Marco Boinini), the team captain. It starts off about as innocently as December 7, 1941 as Stefania sinks her claws into Eric immediately while he whimpers how wrong it is to betray a teammate. Um...right.


The romance progresses with Eric's sister relaying that Eric was skating on thin ice because many of the towns people knew what was going on and it would come back to bite him. Such is life. But the romance isn't as interesting as the game of calcio storico. This is a game that has the same proud tradition as the storied Palio di Siena in Siena 60 kilometers south. Both are interesting centuries old forefathers to our modern games of Football/rugby and horse racing.


Presenting the calcio storico is quite splendid as cinematographer Gherado Gossi did an excellent job of capturing the spectacle without too much of the carnage. Much like rugby, calcio storico is not for weenies!


Most of the italian talent was much more interesting than the American cast. Dalton was dull and one dimensional as if he was looking for cues while reciting lines. Atack didn't even seem interested in her role, whereas Mastronardi (starred in Woody Allen's "To Rome with Love") was sizzling hot and sultry.


The story itself is as old as time and is only bearable because of the nifty historical context within which it is set.


"Lost in Florence" is a perfect film to learn of yet another fascinating ancient element of the one of Italy's most fascinating ancient cities; it make a great travel primer for those interested in going in June.   -- GEOFF BURTON