Watch out not to be hurt
Calcio fiorentino (also known as calcio storico “historic football”) is an early form of football and rugby that originated in 16th-century Italy. Once widely played, the sport is thought to have started in the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence. There it became known as the giuoco del calcio fiorentino (“Florentine kick game”) or simply calcio; which is now also the name for association football in the Italian language. The game may have started as a revival of the Roman sport of harpastum.
Interest in Calcio waned in the early 17th century. However, in 1930 it was reorganized as a game in Kingdom of Italy, under Benito Mussolini. It was widely played by amateurs in streets and squares using handmade balls of cloth or animal skin. Today, three matches are played each year in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence in the 3rd week of June. A team from each quartiere of the city is represented:
• Santa Croce / Azzurri (Blues)
• Santa Maria Novella / Rossi (Reds)
• Santo Spirito / Bianchi (Whites)
• San Giovanni / Verdi (Greens)
After playing each other in two opening games, the two overall winners go into the yearly final on June 24, better known as San Giovanni (St. John)’s Day, the Patron Saint of Florence. For decades, this violent match has resulted in severe injuries, including death. During the early decades, in order to encourage wagering and achieve a bettable winner, there were times when bulls would be ushered into the ring in hopes of adding confusion and inciting victory. The modern version of calcio has not changed much from its historical roots, which allow tactics such as head-butting, punching, elbowing, and choking. However, due to often fatal injuries, sucker punches and kicks to the head are currently banned. It is also prohibited for more than one player to attack an opponent. Any violation leads to being expelled from the game.