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The Weekender | May 16th-18th

The ancient, beautiful and violent game known as Calcio Storico Fiorentino, with quotes, things to read, look at and watch.

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The Weekender

The Weekender is your guide and open thread for the weekend, presented by the fine folks at Viva The Matadors. Things to quote, read, look, watch, and listen to for the weekend. Let's do this.

The ancient, beautiful and violent game known as Calcio Storico Fiorentino, with quotes, things to read, look at and watch.


"The Italians lose football matches as if they were wars and lose wars as if they were football matches."

--Winston Churchill (via GoodReads).


I am here to hopefully waste your time as you learn about Calcio Fiorentino, which is the Italian version of American football, but it is without pads and it is incredibly violent. It is also called Calcio Storico Fiorentino. There’s not too much to read, but I would suggest taking in the Wikipedia entry just to get an idea as to how the game is played (via Wikipedia).

Calcio was reserved for rich aristocrats who played every night between Epiphany and Lent. Even Popes, such as Clement VII, Leo XI and Urban VIII were known to play the sport in Vatican City. The games were known to get violent as teams vied with each other to score goals. This game was probably played already in the 15th century, so much that some matches were organized on a completely frozen over Arno river in 1490. In a historically famous occasion, the city of Florence held a match on February 17, 1530 in defiance of the imperial troops sent by Charles V, as the city was under siege . In 1574 Henry III of France attended a game of "bridge fighting" - put on in his honor during a visit to Venice; the king is recorded as saying: "Too small to be a real war and too cruel to be a game".

The official rules of calcio were published for the first time in 1580 by Giovanni de' Bardi, a Florentine count. The game is played on a field of sand with a narrow slit constituting the goal, running the width of each end. Each teams comprises 27 players who are allowed to use both feet and hands to pass and control the ball. Goals (or cacce) are scored by throwing the ball over into the netting at the end of the field. There is a main referee, six linesmen and a field master. Each match is played out for 50 minutes with the winner being the team with the most goals scored.


Some terrific photos of Calcio Fiorentino (via Sports Illustrated).

Part soccer, part rugby, part mixed martial arts, calcio fiorentino is a popular no-holds-barred game that is popular in Florence, Italy. First played in the 16th century, the sport has few rules and matches take place on a 100-by-50-meter sand pitch with goals running the width of the end zone. There are no timeouts or substitutions. It just might be the toughest and most brutal sport in the world.


An early form of football, the official rules of calcio storico fiorentino were first written in 1580 by Count Giovanni de' Bardi. Originally played for rich aristocrats, even popes were known to play calcio at times.

The field is a giant sandpit with a narrow slit of a goal running the width of each end. Twenty-seven players make up each team, and the ball can be hit with feet or hands. Fight tactics such as punching, elbowing and martial arts techniques are all allowed, but kicks to the head are forbidden, as are fights of two or more against one.

Calcio Storico’s tournament is held the third week of June at the Piazza Santa Croce in the center of Florence. Four teams representing the neighborhoods of Florence face each other in the semifinals, with the winners going on to the final, played every year on June 24, the day of the patron saint of Florence, San Giovanni.

-- Via

But we’re not done. That’s just the beginning. I’ve got another documentary type of video and an entire match, which is 50 minutes in length.

MODERN GLADIATORS - CALCIO STORICO from David Battistella on Vimeo.


I'm not real sure how to pair music with Calcio Storico Fiorentino, so I'm not going to do that this week. There's lots to look at and listen to in the other videos.