Florence’s ‘Calcio Storico’: the most brutal sport in the world

Calcio Storico Fiorentino

Photo: Facebook / Calcio Storico Fiorentino

Calcio Storico, which originated in Florence in the 16th century, is a combination of football, rugby and wrestling, played in historical costumes. The four teams from the four historic quarters of Florence compete against each other, playing the two semi-finals and the final to determine the winner.

Piazza Santa Croce, located in front of the Santa Croce church, has always been the place where this game has been played. The square is set up as it was in the days when the game began, a dirty and dusty square, overlooked by the stands for spectators to enjoy the spectacle.

The first rules of Calcio were published in 1580 by Giovanni de’ Bardi, a Florentine count. Invented by the rich and wealthy classes of Florence at the time, the game was initially the exclusive preserve of the aristocrats and was played every night before Epiphany and Lent.

27 players per team

Teams consist of 27 players and both hands and feet can be used. Points are scored by shooting the ball at a designated place within the perimeter of the court, with another point scored by running along the short sides of the court. Each game lasts 50 minutes and the winning team will be the one with the most points scored.

For 2024 the dates for the semi-finals are Saturday June 1 and Sunday June 2 with the final on Saturday June 15. The day of celebrations and events ends on the banks of the Arno to watch the fireworks being launched from Piazzale Michelangelo.

The prize for the winning team? A prize Chianina cow!

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Written by

Kevin Fraser Park

Kevin was born in Scotland and worked in marketing, running his own businesses in UK, Italy and, for the last 8 years, here in Spain. He moved to the Costa del Sol in 2016 working initially in real estate. He has a passion for literature and particularly the English language which is how he got into writing.