Florence is getting ready for the latest series of Calcio Storico (also known as Calcio Fiorentino), a unique sport which originated in Tuscany in the 1500s.
‘Calcio’ translates to both ‘kick’ and also to ‘football/soccer’ in Italian, thus ‘Calcio Storico’ can be translated as ‘Historical Football/Soccer’. However, this unique Italian sport is more like football with a dash of boxing thrown in for good measure, as both feet and hands can be used.
And not just for contact with the ball.
Held in the Piazza Santa Croce, large stands are set up around a rectangular playing field that is filled with sand on which the match takes place.
Each team is comprised of 27 players made up of locals chosen from each of the four quartiers of the historical city centre of Florence.
The match lasts 50 minutes, in which time each team tries to score as many ‘cacce’ (points) as possible. Goals are scored by either kicking or tossing the ball over the goal line that spans the entire width of each end of the square.
This is definitely football like you’ve never seen it before!
Yet at first glimpse, the thing that may be most striking is not so much the game, nor the players’ ball-playing skills, but rather their outfits.
Players sport bare chests paired with brightly-coloured pantaloons that look like they have stepped straight out the Renaissance!
One look at their brawny physique would quickly discourages anyone from ridiculing their outfits however.
It is thus surprising to know that this game was originally played by aristocrats and even Popes Clement VII, Leo XI and Urban VIII partook in this traditional Italian ball game.
Indeed, the rules of this unusual Italian football game were originally written up by a Florentine Count, Giovanni de’ Bardi, in 1580.
Of late, a few new rules have come into play to make the game a little less violent – for instance, no players can have a criminal record – but it’s still a far cry from a sport for kiddies.
Not even in those pantaloons.
2013 Calcio Storico matches are being held on 15thand 16th before the final Calcio Storico match on 24th June, 2013.