Lots of funny things have endured or been revived in Italy. The Palio comes to mind. Also, galloping clowns being elected prime minister. But Calcio Storico (“Historic Football”) is on a completely different level of batshit crazy.
One could argue that many popular sports are little more than glorified violence, but with points and lucrative sponsorships. Calcio Storico doesn’t bother downplaying the flagrant brutality from its 16th century origins. A mix of rugby, soccer, football (American), boxing, mixed marshal arts and Greco Roman wrestling, calling Calcio Storico “the most violent sport on Earth” is not hyperbole.
But, let’s not forget about the prize money! Oh right there is none. The winning team gets bragging rights and a cow. (Seriously.) Worth the compound fracture and six months of painful recovery? Absolutely.
Unbelievably, it was allegedly even more violent in its original form, when a seriously injury was far more likely to end in death or a permanent disability. Today’s versions is far from tame, however. Legal tactics include head-butting, punching, elbowing, and choking, but “sucker punches and kicks to the head are banned.” Way to draw the line rule dudes.
Can you just imagine the wives and girlfriends watching their (presumably) otherwise sane guys go off for a sanctioned street brawl? What’s the dinner table conversation like later that evening? “How was your day, dear?” “I punched three guys so hard they lost teeth. Also, I lost a tooth and fractured my jaw. And I got kneed in the groin pretty hard, so I might be sterile now.” “That’s nice.”
This video doesn’t answer what I think is the far more pressing question surrounding the game: Why, for the love of god, why?
The game was once played throughout Italy. Today it can only be seen during the annual tournament, held each year in the third week of June in Florence’s Piazza Santa Croce.