Probably Florence Italy’s best kept secret. The Calcio Storico. Originating in the 16th century, it is a mixture of football, rugby and MMA. It is still played today and the rules are almost exactly the same as they were in the 16th century. Due to an alarming number of deaths there were a few rule changes; no kicks to the head, no bulls in the arena (yes, bulls) When I first read about this sport, it captured me and had me fully immersed in finding more and more information about the event. Here is a basic rundown of the sport.
Each match lasts 50 minutes, the field is covered in sand and divided right down the middle. The arena is approximate 80×40 meters and the “goal net” is as long as the 40 meter wall. Each team is made up of 27 players and no substitutions are allowed. The way to gain points is by throwing the ball into the other teams net at the opposite end of the field. You must throw with precision though, a missed shot will cost your team possession of the ball and will award the opposing team half a point.
The event is an all our brawl. No players are paid. The tradition used to be the winning team was awarded a cow, these days the winning team gets a free dinner, no other compensation for the athletes. It is truly an amazing event to watch. Check out this link below for an amazing look at the secret world of Calcio Storico. True Gladiators.