Friday, June 28, 2013

Calcio Storico (Historic Florentine Soccer)

Duomo, Florence, Italy
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to see Calcio Storico ( being played in Italy.  This is an ancient game that has been played in Florence for centuries.  The first written rules (a slim volume to be sure) of the game date back to 1580.  Florence is divided into four neighborhood sections Santa Croce ("Azzuri" or Blues), Santo Spirito ("Bianchi" or Whites), San Giovanni ("Verdi" or Greens) and Santa Maria Novella ("Rossi" or Reds).  The game represented a form of military training for Florentine aristocrats.

Calcio Storico Poster
The game is played on a sand filled piazza in front of the cathedral of Santa Croce.  There are two teams of 27 players each.  There is a ball, but no apparent goals and very few rules.  The object of the game is to get the ball to the other end of the field by ANY AND ALL MEANS.  Punching, wrestling, tackling and hurling insults at your opponents "madre" are all part of the game.  If the ball hits the opposing teams' wall a point is scored -- if it misses the defending team scores half a point.
Men in tights / Pre-game Pageantry
21st Century Gladiators
Game on!

Florence Parade

Their is much pageantry and celebration.  The players and many costumed flag wavers and musicians parade though town on their way to Santa Croce under the blazing heat of a Tuscan June.  The final is always played on June 24 each year to honor the feast day of Florence's patron Saint -- John the Baptist.

There is about an hour of pomp and pageantry on the field prior to the start of the game.  The actual game time is 50 minutes.  During the semi-final game we saw between the Verdi and the Azzurri, play was interrupted twice to carry players off the field on stretchers.  Mouth guards are the only protective equipment allowed.

We went to a fight and a soccer match broke out!  This is a violent brutal game.  It has, at times, been an opportunity for neighborhood score settling.

Watching Calcio Storico was the closest I have ever come to being a war correspondent!  The Azzuri of Santa Croce destroyed the Verdi of San Giovanni in the match we saw.   They went on to beat Bianchi by a score of 2 to 0 in the final on June 24th. 

Commander Kelly says, "Forza Calcio Storico!"

If the violence of watching a Calcio Storico match under the Tuscan sun or even just reading about it on a blog has jangled your nerves you may be in need of alcoholic refreshment.  I would suggest a refreshing Spritz.  Here is the Recipe.

In a large wine glass half-way filled with ice add...

3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 part Pellegrino
Slice of Orange

Enjoy the summer!

You can now purchase Commander Kelly's 
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You can now find Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World here...
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Unknown said...

Kickass...What a great game!

Anonymous said...

Very cool. Thanks for sharing!