Calcio Storico Fiorentino
June is a surreal old time in Florence. What is bound to make you agree, is if you find yourself attending the Calcio Storico. Translated literally into English as “historic football”, this is sport originating from 16th century in Florence, and is an occasion to be savoured for the Florentines.
The sport is likely to have been derived from Harpastum, a sport widely played during the Roman Empire, and involves a mixture between football, rugby and wrestling. The official rules of the sport were first invented by the those of a similar social status, and published by a wealthy aristocrat named Giovanni de’ Bardi. These rules make for a very physical game. Participants get pretty physical from the beginning to the end during play, which increases its appeal for some. During the game, participants are allowed to head-butt, punch, and elbow their opponents; while sucker punches and kicks to the head are banned.
The sport recently has seen a revival, after interest in it significantly decreased during the 17th century. Benito Mussolini in the 1930s sought to bring the game back. Ever since then, the game has taken place every June, outside of the Santa Croce church during the third week of the month. The semi-finals take place from the beginning of the third week, culminating into a final during the 24th of June out of those decisive winners: at 5pm.
From 4pm, a parade is formed which heads on down to the arena. The teams follows this parade, and are then formed from the traditional quartiers of the city: Santa Croce are blue, Santa Spirito are white, Santa Maria Novella are red, while San Giovanni wear green. Teams score simply by throwing the ball, or getting the ball to a designated area on the field. Except for that, anything goes, and it’s a free-for-all. The winning team earns themselves a Chianina calf believe it or not, and are then back in with the crowd to enjoy the fireworks on Piazzale Michelangelo; all in celebration of Florence’s patron saint, St. John the Baptist’s feast day.
You can get your tickets for an average price of around 35 euro, and you should be able to get them beginning at the start of June or even towards the end of May. Standing tickets are generally available later, although the sitting ones are known to sell out very fast. Get them from Box Office Toscana.