Calcio Storico Fiorentino – A Must Attend, One of the Most Unusual Sporting Events in the World!
Looking for a festival that celebrates hand to hand combat? Look no further, Calcio Storico Fiorentino is everything you want it to be, and more!
A Fighting Festival
Calcio Storico is something you’d never expect! A festival dedicated to a body-to-body match that takes place each year in the middle of Florence. The event occurs, almost ironically, right in front of the Church of Santa Croce
The Game and the Rules
Calcio Storico translates to “historic football” or the “Florentine Kickgame”. Essentially this event commemorates the initial origins of football. If you want a truly historically accurate reading of the rules, they were written by Giovanni de Bardi in the 1580’s.
Every year, four provinces of Italy, Santa Croce, Santa Sprito, Santa Maria Novella, and San Giovanni, send a team of 27 men to compete against each other. The game itself is kind of a free for all. Participants are allowed to use both hands and feet while protecting the ball. It is not uncommon to see hits, punches, elbows or chokeholds. Teams start off by facing each other on the sandy field. The final match lasts 50 minutes.
With such violent tactics allowed, things can get out of hand very quickly. In 2007, a fight actually broke out amongst 50 players leading to a ban of the event for an entire year. To try to cut down on the amount of injuries and outside fighting, a referee and six linesmen are always on the field to call fouls or help injured men off the sand.
Calcio Storico originated in the 1500’s and has deeply rooted religious beginnings. It began in the renaissance era and was played each night between the Epiphany and Lent. This sport has been violent ever since its original days. Henry the Third is recorded as saying, “Too small to be a real war and too cruel to be a game”. In modern times, attendees hold true to the tradition and still engage in bloody battles throughout the event.
Who Comes to Calcio Storico?
The games of Calcio Storico was reborn in 1930 as a way for attendees and festival performers to get closer to their Italian roots. The festival of today begins with largely ornate parades and heavily decorated costume, the event has grown into a full on celebration. Following all the pre-festival activity, the real game begins when the men are ready to fight.
Many people who choose to celebrate in modern times are excited and passionate about Italian history. While anyone is really invited to the festival, it is a good idea to let children stay home.
Tickets and Pricing
Calcio Storico typically lasts around three days in June. The majority of your money will be spent on traveling accommodations and food, not tickets.The event of Calcio Storico is relatively inexpensive but may be purchased online closer to the starting date of the event. If you are traveling into Italy, prepare to spend a lot of money on your roundtrip tickets. Try purchasing them early so you have the best options for lodging and hotel choices.
When choosing tickets for Calcio Storico, there are several different pricing options. When purchasing tickets, try to minimize the wait time. If you can’t purchase tickets in advance, you may be able to to find tickets right at the Piazza. However these quick fixes are often more expensive.
The Footbal Experience: What to Expect
Experiencing Calcio Storico in person is intense. You need to be well prepared if you plan to stay the entire nine day period. Before you get to the event, make sure you are well rested, hydrated, and in the mood to party! Plan to arrive early, because Calcio Storico festivities start very early the first day of the festival.
Once you arrive, you should plan out the events you want to see and what you want to do each day. The great thing about having a weekend festival is that you have the time and opportunity to see and do everything. No matter what day of the festival it is, expect to do a lot of walking and sweating—most events are outdoors and spread out over the fairgrounds.
Be prepared for what you will witness. If you don’t like blood or fighting at all, this festival is not for you. Try to sit away from the front sections if you are squeamish.
Fare of the Fair: Calcio Storico Has the Best Food
The food at Calcio Storico is a wonderful smorgasbord of every italian delicacy under the sun. From authentic pasta and breads to incredible seafood, all the regulars are here as well as traditional food you may just be hearing of for the first time. Try your best to eat all your meals out in a restaurant or at the event itself. You won’t regret it!
Travel and Lodging
Check the Calcio Storico website for local hotels partnering with the festival to try to save on rooms. If you are flying in, it is helpful to come in at least a day before the festival begins in order to recover from jetlag and prepare for the days ahead. Once your flight lands, renting a car or getting a street car or cab is probably your best option if you don’t have accommodations that are within walking distance of the Piazza.
When considering refreshments at Calcio Storico, many people choose to spend a lot of their time drinking beer or alcoholic beverages. Watch your drink intake, especially if you are new to the area or it is the middle of the day. The sun is already dehydrating your body long before you start drinking.
Tips for Calcio Storico
Tips for Calcio Storico range from having a good understanding of all the areas around the event, to making sure you have your money converted before arriving. Because the event can get brutal and may inspire violence in others, try to stay away from large drunken crowds. Using common sense is really all you need to ensure a great experience.
If you don’t want to watch the field from the sunny stands that are right in front of the fighting, try to find your way into one of the surrounding houses and apartments. Many attendees choose to watch the event far away from the actual field.
When it comes to event preparation for your visit to Italy, keep in mind that the weather often changes unexpectedly so you may want to have an umbrella or poncho on hand. For those that arrive to the festival during the day, bring a hat, bandana, visor, and/or sunglasses to protect against the sun.
What to Bring, What to Wear
Visitors of the festival should bring a sense of discovery and a lot of energy. Calcio Storica is an adventure full of a rich culture and history for anyone willing to partake in. Everyone performing in the Calcio Storico is serious about the fashion so definitely join in on the fun! If nothing else, make sure you get your hands on some traditional attire that is the color of one of the teams that you are representing. Do some research to figure out who you want to support and what colors to wear.
Apart from a specific color, there is no particular way you need to be dressed to enjoy Calcio Storico. When it comes to footwear, steel toed boots, pointed boots, sneakers, and any other kind of closed toed shore are welcome. However, keep in mind that your boots should be well worn in by the time of the festival as you will be walking for a large part of the day. Do your best to avoid blisters by choosing shoes that are both fashionable and comfortable.
Outside of Calcio Storico
Calcio Storico is an insane representation of Italian history and tradition, but an incredibly transformative experience. Once you have made it through the entire event, be sure to have a few extra days to explore Italy itself.
Start with the Piazza where Calcio Storico takes place. Spend some free time exploring and walking around looking at the architecture and neighboring businesses. While you’re out and about, be sure to check out the Uffizi Gallery for masterpieces of the Renaissance and. The Palazzo Vecchio is an incredible testament to 13th century history and art.
Try a walk through on of the many cathedrals and churches in the area for a bit of a more meditative experience. The Basilica of Santa Croce is right across from the Piazza an is a wonder of Franciscan history and culture. The Piazzale Michelangelo is a religious experience of sorts as well as it is a testament and commemoration to the master himself. Be sure to visit all the other museums and galleries in the area. What is a trip to Italy without getting a through look at all the artwork?
So whether you are into the ancient origins of football as we know it, there is a lot to learn and love about Calcio Storico! See you there.
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