The city of Florence is known for its beautiful art, delicious food, and
eclectic mixture of events. It's easy to
see why so many people choose to reserve their luxury Tuscan villa rentals in the
city, it seems like there's always something going on in the region. Sports fans would love visiting the city in
June where a very unique sporting event takes place. Calcio
Storico Fiorentino is a celebration of history and sportsmanship, and
like many traditions in the city, this all started during the region's ancient
Roman legionaries had a unique method for training their warriors. They would play a game the ancient Greeks
invented called "Sferomachia", a game that's like a mixture of
wrestling and soccer. Two teams of equal
numbers would play on opposite sides of a field, and the goal was to bring a
ball over to the opponent's field by any means necessary. Players would engage in head-to-head combat,
and the Roman people enjoyed the game so much that soon everybody in the empire
wanted in on the activity.
By the 16th century all of Florence was in love with the
game. The game used to be played
exclusively by the aristocrats of the city, but the game's popularity spread
among every citizen in the city. Young
Florentines practiced the sport in nearly every street and town square, and there
are even a few popes who played the game.
Soon the games were organized during every Carnival season, but
eventually because of changing times and opinions the game fell out of
popularity for a few centuries.
Organized matches didn't begin again until the 20th century, and in 1930
the first official game in centuries was played. Now the games take place during the 3rd
week of June in the Piazza Santa Croce.
Four teams participate in the games and each one represents the city's
four districts, the team members can be identified by their colors: Santa Croce
wears blue, Santa Maria Novella wears red, Santo Spirito wears white, and San
Giovanni wears green. The modern version
of the game eliminated some of the more dangerous aspects of the original game,
but the approved tactics are still pretty rough. Players are allowed to head-butt, punch,
elbow, and even choke others, but sucker-punching and kicks to the head are
The winners go on to play during the final tournament on June 24th,
the day of Florence's patron saint San Giovanni (the saint we know as St. John
the Baptist). The final match isn't the
only thing to see in the city on the 24th. Each year there's a parade full of people in
historical Renaissance clothing, and they march from the Piazza Santa Maria
Novella to the match in the Piazza Santa Croce.
The night ends with a breath taking fireworks display that's launched
from Piazzale Michelangelo.