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Calcio Storico started out in 15th-century Italy; but though its name translates as ‘Historic Football’ in English, it’s not quite the sport we all know and love today. This is a very early (and rather more charged...) form of the game, thought to have its roots in Roman times. Still played in Florence’s Piazza Santa Croce every summer (usually June), it’s essentially a macho mixture of boxing, wrestling and football, played to raucous applause.
If you fancy casting your eye over this unique Florentine event, you need look no further than HomeAway for holiday accommodation. With thousands of villas and apartments in Florence and the surrounding area, you’re sure to find a great base for your stay. And with so much to see and do aside from Calcio Storico itself, it’s sure to be the break of a lifetime. Cheers, “oohs” and “aahs” at the ready - but be warned: this is not for the faint of heart!
A game fit for gladiators
Calcio Storico: History
Also known as Calcio Fiorentino, Calcio Storico has mysterious origins. It’s thought that the sport may have originally been used to keep troops fit for battle, but as the centuries rolled on, young and wealthy aristocrats took a fancy to the game. Thus it was that Count Giovanni de’Bardi di Vernio wrote the first official rules back in 1580; that 54 players would be divided into two teams of 27, who would then line up in three rows, and... well, it’s all a bit ambiguous from then on!
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Calcio Storico: Aim of the Game
The main objective of Calcio Storico is to score a goal; teams aim to throw a round ball over a four-foot high, wooden wall, by pretty much any means possible. If a team goes to score, the sole aim of their opposing team is to stop them; and really, anything goes. From tackling Rugby-style to kicking Karate-style, even clawing like a cat seems the norm! Limbs akimbo and ready for action, prepare for sand to be thrown and egos officially dented - this is a tournament fit for the fiercest.
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Calcio Storico: Ruthless Rivals
The four teams that play Calcio Storico hail from four distinct areas of Florence: the Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella, Santo Spirito and San Giovanni teams are passionate about their heritage, and hold nothing back when it comes to winning the game. Sporting blue, red, white and green colours respectively, these ruthless teams make for great watching. Though as each game lasts for around 50 minutes or so, it’s a good job they’re carefully overlooked by a main referee, field master and six linesmen!
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Calcio Storico: Spectator Sport
Ever watched a documentary on Gladiators back in their hey-day, and thought how wonderful it must have been to watch from the stands? Well, that’s what Calcio Storico offers; but without (quite) so much ancient gore. With crowds lined up in the stalls cheering for their favourite teams, Calcio Storico’s a spectator sport like no other.
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Calcio Storico: Pageantry
Like any other self-respecting sport in Italy, Calcio Storico’s accompanied by a great deal of pomp and pageantry. Before each and every game, players are marched to the Piazza Santa Croce from the Pizza Santa Maria Novella, winding through the streets accompanied by drummers and trumpeters, revellers waving flags, and locals draped in their finest historical costume. Even if you don’t watch the game, the scene’s a spectacular one.
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Main Image © Romana Correale
Image 1 © Lorenzo Blangiardi
Images 2 and 4 © Alexandra
Images 3 and 5 © Jon Gonzalo Torróntegui
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