A tradition starting back in the 16th century, Calcio Storico will take place in Piazza Santa Croce on June 24th. The game of calcio (soccer) is no ordinary game, it is cross between rugby and soccer. But much more violent. Before noblemen played in this physical game which is in honor of San Giovanni (Feast of St. John, the patron saint of Florence). Basically the rules are to score as many goals, but anything goes, kicking, punching, head-butting and anything that will get you the ball from your opponent. But each team must keep possession of the ball and if they miss catching the ball and they are intercepted those points go to the other team. Warlike tactics are used and were used in this game in the past, not close to winning a game but winning a war. There are four teams that represent the 4 zones of the historic center. Each zone dresses in traditional Renaissance colored costumes (Santa Croce-blue, Santa Maria Novella-red, Santo Spirito-white, San Giovanni-green).
The game lasts 50 minute and there are 27 players on each team: 5 goalies, 3 defenders, 5 midfielders and 15 forwards. Crazy huh!?! Players are allowed to carry the ball anyway they know how, with any part of their body. While the other team tries to steal it away by tackling the other player to obtain the ball. The players feel so strongly about winning that they play with all their heart. If they are seriously injured in the game they would rather push through the pain by finishing the game with their teammates, instead of going to the hospital. Being a part of this tradition gives each player a sense of pride and strength, similar to that of ancient Rome.
There has been new rules drawn up in the hopes that the violence won’t be as prominent as in past years. A few years back the whole tournament of Calcio Storico was cancelled due the lack of following the new rules. The teams have agreed to follow the rules this year but who knows if that will be case come Friday. The new rules states that anyone can play at any age. Combat in obtaining the ball will now only be accepted as one on one instead of as a group attacking one person.
At the end of the game, the winning team consumes a bistecca fiorentina, which is the same weight of an entire calf. This passionate and savage game is for people who love action and full contact. It can get bloody and brutal during each play, because like I said, anything goes. The violence perhaps has toned down a bit, but they players are so full of pride that they really can’t help themselves.
The game will begin around 5pm in Piazza Santa Croce. Tickets vary from €20 to €45.
For more information check out: Calcio Storico