Calcio Storico Fiorentino is an early form of football, originating in the 1500’s, which is still played today in Florence, Italy. The official rules of calcio were written for the first time in 1580 by Giovanni de Bardi, a count from Florence. Originally calcio (which is also the name for modern day football/soccer in Italy) was played for rich aristocrats, and even popes were known to play.
Now, the tournament is held the third week of June at the Santa Croce square in the centre of Florence. Four teams representing the neighbourhoods of Florence face each other in the first semi-finals. The winners go to the final, played every year on June 24, the day of the patron saint of Florence, San Giovanni (however the 2013 final was postponed until June 30, due to heavy rain). The winner is honoured with a cow.
The teams are formed by 27 players and the ball can be played either with feet or hands. They can fight using tactics such a punching, elbowing and all martial arts techniques, but kicks to the head are forbidden, as are fights of two or more against one. There is a referee, a field master, and six linesmen. A game lasts 50 minutes, and the winning team is the one who scores most points. The playing field is a giant sand pit with a narrow slit constituting the goal running the width of each end. Calcio Storico was not played for 200 years, until its revival in 1930.
The four neighbourhoods taking part are Santa Croce (the blue team), Santa Maria Novella (the red team), Santo Spirito (the white team), and San Giovanni (the green team).
In 2006, the tournament was suspended for two years after big riots between the white team and the blue team.