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Blood, Sweat and Calcio Storico Florentino

Rules were made to be broken. This is the mindset of calcio storico fiorentino players.

Calcio Storico (171)
Members of Florence’s four districts battle it out on the field during calcio storico.

Nothing slows down the players of this Florentine historical football-like sport. Not even gushing blood, broken bones or any other hospital worthy injuries.

Part of the celebrations for the feast day of Florence’s patron saint, St. John the Baptist, on June 24, this traditional sport puts Florence districts head to head in brutal matches on a field at Piazza Santa Croce. The games take place on June 13 (Greens vs Reds) and 14 (Whites vs. Blues) at 5 pm, with the finale on June 24.

Before each game (roughly around 4 pm) a parade of drummers, flag-bearers, team members and other Florentines, all dressed in historical attire, takes place from Piazza Santa Maria Novella to Piazza dell Signoria and onwards through Via dei Neri and Via dei Benci to the field of play, Piazza Santa Croce.

Calcio storico fiorentino is a mix of wrestling, rugby, soccer and football. The sport’s ancient origins, dating to the 16 century, can be seen in the Renaissance inspired clothing the players wear and the violence taking place on the field. In this war-like game there is only one rule: anything goes. Though the modern version has updated the ancient rules a bit. The rules still allow head-butting, punching, elbowing and choking but forbid sucker punches and kicks to the head.

This bloody and violent 50 minute ‘game’ consists of 27 players on each team, who play the entire time because there are no substitutes. There are four teams each representing one of the four districts of Florence: the Greens (San Giovanni), Reds (Santa Maria Novella), Blues (Santa Croce) and Whites (Santo Spirito).

The point of the game is to get the ball in the goal in any way possible. The defense’s job is to do whatever they can to tackle and pin down the advancing player or intercept a pass. Any miss of the goal or interceptions offer points to the opposing team. The winner is which ever team has the most points when the 50 minutes runs out.

Historically, the winning team took home, along with bragging rights, an entire white calf as their prize. Now the winning team takes home the weight of an entire white calf in bistecca fiorentina.

Ticket Information: Tickets for the calcio storico can be purchased at a box office at Via Alamanni, 39, Teatro Verdi on Via Ghibellina or, if any are left, directly in Piazza Santa Croce on game day or online at boxol.it. Prices range from €21- € 52.

Game Schedule:

June 13: San Giovanni (Greens) vs Santa Maria Novella (Reds) starting at 5 pm at Piazza Santa Croce.

June 14: Santa Croce (Blues) vs Santo Spirito (Whites) starting at 5 pm at Piazza Santa Croce.

June 24: Final

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