Calcio Fiorentino: The Manliest Game On Earth

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Image: via Tastefully Driven

Calcio Fiorentino is definitely the sort of game you would have been tempted to forget your gym shorts for while you were in high school. This is a man’s game, make no mistake, played by the manliest of men in Italy. Like a primitive forefather of football and rugby, combined with no-holds-barred martial arts, Calcio Fiorentino was a bruiser from the day it was born in the 16th Century. Astonishingly it continues to be played to this day. One word sums it up: brutal.


Image: Lorenzo Noccioli

The name of this most macho of sports derives from its place of birth, Florence (Fiorentino) and the Italian verb to kick, “calcio”. Ironically, kicking – along with sucker punching – is one of the few forms of violence that is restricted, with boots to the head a no go. On the other hand, punches and elbows to the face, head-butting, throttling – you name it – are all legally part of the game in Calcio Fiorrentino. Still, there are at least a couple of rules to control the chaos.

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Image: Tom Stardust

The object of the game is to score more points than the opposing team by netting the ball into a goal running the width of the playing field, at either end of a 100m by 50m sand pit. Other than that, it’s pretty much a free for all played flat out over 50 minutes with no time outs or substitutions. The game is played in teams of twenty-seven, ensuring there are enough bodies for a good old-fashioned dust up. It seems as if the eight officials are all there is to prevent a mass riot. Even the fans want to get stuck in.

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