World ? Europe ? Italy ? Florence

Historic Footbal

A bit of Calcio Storico action, Florence
Photo courtesy of Comune di Firenze
Jun 2009 (various dates)
Hours: 5pm
Telephone: +39 055 261 60 51
Fax: +39 055 261 60 53
Address: Piazzetta di Parte Guelfa, 1r, 50123 Firenze
Link: Calcio Storico Website
Testosterone abounds when four teams of 27 youths apiece face each other during the Historic Football, or Calcio Storico, a 15th-century style tournament of fighting and football in Florence's Piazza Santa Croce.
The game itself is said to originate from an ancient Roman ball sport, which became a Florentine speciality in the golden age of the Tuscan capital. Once the sport of princes and noblemen, who used its violence to prove their own skill and strength (for the benefit of the watching damsels), it is now fiercely fought between young men of the four Florentine quarters: San Giovanni, Santa Maria Novella, Santo Spirito and Santa Croce.

Clad in medieval garters and pantaloons, players seem more preoccupied with attacking each other than putting the ball anywhere, though the rules of Calcio Storico in themselves are fairly complex. The aim is to seize the ball and put it in the net (which runs the entire width of the pitch) by whatever means available. Precision is everything, as misses and interceptions provide points for the other team. The winners are rewarded with a mass of steaks equivalent in weight to the more traditional prize of a white calf or bistecca fiorentina, which was historically butchered for the occasion. Great entertainment for enthusiastic spectators, but a pitch invasion is probably a bad idea.

Please note that in 2007 the event was cancelled and at present there are no details on the next edition. Please keep an eye on the Calcio Storico website for updates.
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