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Jun 14, 2012


There's no way to hear the whistle for a foul play in Florentine historical soccer game,  even if a player hits an opponent with a punch, with a elbow or a kick. Only the braves can be part of this game made of sweat, strength, passion and blood. And even a touch of madness.

As you can see in the video above (which is a trailer from the upcoming movie in 2012 "I Calcianti" by the italian director Stefano Lorenzi), the historical Florentine soccer is an amazing, spectacular and brutal reenactment of an early version of soccer. There are four teams, each for one of the four quarters of the city: Santa Croce (blue team), San Giovanni (green team), Santo Spirito (white team) and Santa Maria Novella (red team). Each team has 27 players with no expected substitutes. The game is played  in Santa Croce square, transformed in a field covered in sand, and the duration is 50 minutes.   A white line divides the field into two identical square and on the two sides of the bottom is mounted a net overlying the fence surrounding the entire perimeter of the game. Players of both teams will try (by whatever means) to bring the ball down to the bottom of the enemy camp and deposit it in the net marking the goal (named "caccia"). It is important to throw the ball with great precision because if the ball went, following a shot wrong or to a deviation of the defenders, above the net, would be assigned half a point in favor of the opponent. Unlike modern soccer, there are no restrictions concerning parts of the body that may be used to strike the ball. Likened to a combination of wrestling, rugby, and soccer, historical soccer  looks like a mass riot. The winning team is awarded with the Palio (drape in fabric) and a Chianina heifer (a Tuscan breed of cattle, from wich is made the famous Fiorentina beefsteak).

The sand, the sun and Santa Croce: ready for the fight

As usual in Tuscany (for instance, think at the Palio of Siena) there is a strong connection between religion and sport, between the sacred and profane, saints and fighters. In fact, the three matches are played each year in Piazza Santa Croce, in the third week of June. The four teams face each others in the first two games. The winners go to the final, which occurs on June 24, the day of the Saint Patron of Florence, San Giovanni (St John).

Great shots by the photographer Giuseppe Sabella are on diplay in a special exhibition entitled Il calcio storico fiorentino (address: Piazzetta di Parte Guelfa, 2red - MAP). To watch a few shots by Sabella click here. From June 14th to June 30th, h 10.30am - 06.30pm.

In bookstores you can find a brand new book about historical Florentine soccer: Il Calcio fiorentino – Le origini, le partite gloriose, i protagonisti (Florentine soccer - The origins, the glorious games, the players) published by EDK Editore, curated by Sandro Bellucci, Umberto Bini and Filippo Giovannelli, photos by Giuseppe Sabella.

So, if you are in Florence during these days, don't miss it. It is possible to buy tickets for the game and be part of a spectacular event.
This is the schedule of the three matches:
Saturday June 16th 05.00 pm
Sunday June 17th 05.00 pm
Sunday June 24th 05.00 pm
Prices are between € 47,00 and € 21,00.


And now a short history of Florentine soccer.
It has ancient origins. Greeks played a game called "Sferomachia" that was later adopted by the Roman army, transforming it into a type of training for their warriors, the "Harpastum", literally, "to rip off". Florentine soccer is a direct continuation of the Roman game but the first documented informations are are from the late 15th century. The most famous match was probably the one played on 17 February 1530, during the siege of Florence by the imperial army of Charles V from the summer 1529 to that of 1530. The soldiers considered Florence exhausted and already defeated but Florentines started playing soccer  to show the city's scorn for the besieging troops. This is a typical example of the true Florentine spirit!

Click here to watch the video of the Florentine soccer 2012 full match.


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