Calcio Storico in Florence, a death match

written by Tiana Kai

Calcio Storico

Calcio Storico, A.K.A. Calcio in Costume and Calcio Fiorentino is a historical sport that runs deep in the Florentine blood line. It’s played annually in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence.

Read why this soccer/rugby/boxing match isn’t really my favorite Florentine event and let me know what you think!

Calcio Storico in Florence

History of Calcio Storico

Calcio Storico—calcio, meaning soccer for the fellow Americans—feels more like a rugby death match that began in the 16th Century. Some even say it started as far back as 59 A.D.

The rules were established in 1580 which allowed a team of 27 to play with their hands and feet. Two opposing teams have 50 minutes to throw the ball over the goal in order to win.

The sport died off and was resurrected in 1930 when organized sports came into play—pun intended. The teams are split between neighborhoods, so make sure you’re on the right side of the arena when you go!

Santa Croce are the Azzurri , blues.
Santa Maria Novella are the Rossi, reds.
Santo Spirito are the Bianchi, whites.
San Giovanni are the Verdi, greens. 

Calcio Storico June 2014

June 14th — Azzurri VS Bianchi at 17:00
June 15th — Rossi VS Verdi at 17:00
June 24th — Finals at 17:00

Tickets are € 21 – 52 and you can buy them online, which I highly recommended, or at the hectic ticket booth in Piazza Santa Croce before the game. 

The winning team wins a Chianina. It’s the oldest breed of cattle dating back 2,200 years. It’s large, white, flavorful and typical of Tuscany.

My personal take

Calcio Storico in Piazza Santa Croce

Photo by

I’ve been in the Santa Croce bleachers twice during this crazy event. The first time was in 2002 as a student. I remember enjoying it and not thinking much of it, just that it was something I should see.

Then again in 2012 when Nicco and I took our Moms, oh my!

My Mom has seen it all, but she really didn’t need to have witnessed men beating the shit out of each other and knocking each other out. Seriously, I saw two men get knocked out and just drop to the ground.

Calcio Storico seems more like ultimate fighting than soccer. At times you can’t tell where the ball is because the teams disperse and start fighting. I don’t really hate it—to each their own—I just don’t ever need to see it again. Twice is plenty, wouldn’t you agree?

*Find Calcio Storico on Facebook.

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Becky Padmore June 17, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Brilliant shots of this, it actually looks pretty scary!

Tiana Kai June 17, 2013 at 7:10 pm

It’s actually horrific! Amazing how pumped people get over watching others beat the hell out of each other… although I was a fan of boxing, so I can’t really judge the sport just rather not attend.

Adam June 18, 2013 at 11:47 am

OMG, A friend from Tuscany told me about this a few months back and I couldn’t believe how violent it is. Incredible. I’d nearly blocked it from my memory but these pictures will now haunt me!

Tiana Kai June 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Haha, ya it’s pretty brutal, worse than boxing!

Brandi Scarpelli June 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Hi! I just found your blog and love! I recently moved to Florence with my husband and we are dying over this event. It’s down the street from our house. Of course my husband is all about it and I feel like I would cry! hahaha We werent here last weekend but I’m here this weekend and will try to avoid it. ha! ciao!!!

Tiana Kai June 24, 2013 at 11:01 am

Ha, well I always say do everything at least once! After going twice you would catch me kicking and screaming if I had to go again.

If you go, make sure you face north or east, so the sun’s at your back!

Kaley July 5, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Wow, I don’t think I would enjoy it. It’s like how some men (and I suppose women) enjoy those MMA things. No way.

Tiana Kai July 11, 2013 at 3:47 am

Exactly, it’s so rough that I feel you really have to be into fighting more than the sport itself… well I guess fighting is the sport at this point.

You thought Florence was only for pansies? | get back, lauretta! November 6, 2014 at 7:36 am

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