Calcio Storico – The Most Brutal Football Tradition in Italy
On June 24th each year, the main square of Florence transforms into an arena for a sport that’s a vicious combination of rugby, football, and wrestling. This unique tradition is known as Calcio Storico, or Historical Football, a game that was first invented by the Florentines in the 16th century. With its roots in the Renaissance period, Calcio Storico has become one of the most popular sports in Italy and is now a world-famous event that attracts people from all over the world.
Origins of the Game
The Calcio Storico Fiorentino originated in the Piazza Santa Croce on 17 February 1530, during the Spanish army’s occupation of the city. This game was created as a distraction and to ridicule the enemy, and soon became a well-celebrated tradition in Florence. The event is now held every June at the San Giovanni Festival, and is highly valued in Florentine culture.
The Basics of Calcio Storico
Each team comprises of 27 players, and the game is played in less than an hour. Players are allowed to use their hands and feet, and a Caccia goal is scored by throwing the ball across the designated area at the end of the field. If the player misses the designated spot, the opposing team earns half a point. Unlike other sports, players are not identified by numbers but by symbols, such as the Horn, Dragon, Star, Pear, Key, and many others. Semi-final matches are organized every Easter Sunday by drawing painted balls.
The Playground – The Calcio Storico Field
The game is played on a rectangular field that is around double the width, covered in sand, and divided into two equal squares with goals at each end. Two teams of 27 players participate in the match, which lasts 50 minutes without any substitutions, even if there are injuries. The ball is thrown into the middle of the pitch, and the players descend to get it and “Calcio” or “kick” it over the fence of the opponent’s team’s field. Players can use any means necessary to get the ball, and tackling by tripping is also allowed, making the game extremely violent. Despite the violence, there are rules in place to minimize the damage, such as prohibiting multiple players from attacking a single player.
The Thrill of Calcio
Calcio Storico is known for its violence and is considered one of the most dangerous sports in the world. Although there have been no reported deaths, many players do get injured during the game. In 2007, the city authorities banned Calcio for a year after a massive brawl in which approximately 50 players were taken to court. The rules were updated after the incident, and it is now stated that convicted criminals cannot participate in the game.
The Costumes of Calcio Storico
Before the start of the game, the Bishop of Florence raffles crews from marble eggs. The four marble eggs come in different colors, each representing a historic district. Calcio Storico is also known as a football game played in costume, often referred to as Calcio in livery. The players used to play in their Renaissance clothing when the game was first invented, and the tradition has remained. The parading figures now wear the dresses of the Lori institutions belonging to the city.
Calcio Storico is a game full of twists and turns and is the most violent type of football in the world. Despite its brutality, it is highly regarded in Florence, and with such an ancient history, it holdsa special place in the hearts of its people. This unique tradition brings together the city’s history, culture, and athleticism, creating a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you are a fan of the sport or just a spectator, the energy and excitement that comes with Calcio Storico is truly a sight to behold. With its rich history and cultural significance, Calcio Storico is a celebration of Florence’s heritage and a symbol of its resilience and spirit. Despite the violence and rough play, the game remains a beloved tradition that continues to draw in spectators from all over the world. So, if you’re ever in Florence on June 24th, be sure to witness this amazing spectacle and take part in the most brutal football tradition in Italy.