The Calcio Storico Fiorentino, Florentine Historic Football, is held each June in Piazza Santa Croce, the square facing the homonym church, one of the most beautiful and representative in Florence.
Originated in the 16th century, the match involves the four teams which belong to the ancient districts of the city Santa Croce, Santo Spirito, Santa Maria Novella, and San Giovanni and takes place in the feast day for its Patron Saint, St. John the Baptist.
It is not exactly just a soccer match and somebody may define it a brutal games: a combination of rugby and wrestling where players can punch, kick and, yes, wrestle their way to victory. Nevertheless, this is a unique opportunity to really experience the spirit and the pride of the true Florentine pride.
The first editions of this game date back to the half of the 16th century and the official rules were first published in 1580 by Giovanni de’ Bardi, a Florentine count. In 1573 King Henry III of France attended one match and declared it was ‘too small to be a war and too cruel to be a game’.
Originally, only high class members could play. Today, players are regular citizens, mostly corpulent and muscular men covered in tattoos, stripped to the waist and wearing little more than tape on their knuckles. Teams of 27 can actually use ‘any means necessary’ in order to score, including punches and kicks. Players train throughout the year in order to be fit and ready for the match which lasts 50 minutes without any breaks, even if players have to be stretchered off the field by doctors because of their wounds!
While all players start off wearing a shirt in their team colors, that is usually torn off during the brutal contest.
There is a referee and a few linesmen who attempt to keep the peace, but often they have dozens of fights to deal with, and players have been known to get knocked out before they can be reached!
At the end of the day, the celebrations include amazing fireworks launched from Piazzale Michelangelo, right on top of Florence!
Cost of tickets generally range from 29 to 80 euro with the best central seats being the most expensive.