Calcio (kick) Fiorentino also known as Calcio in Costume or Calcio Storico is a game that has no rules. Two teams with 27 players each play the match.
There is a goal that is about one meter high and wide at the opposite ends and a red and white ball to play with. The team with greater number of points or ‘cacce’ at the finish of the game is the winner.
The winning team was rewarded with a heifer. The players have their own way of playing the game, winning and scoring points. When the game begins, it’s up to the members of the team to maintain their strength and take advantage of the weakness of the opponent’s team. Since there are no rules, the players are free to kick the ball, carry it or throw the ball in any direction. Goals are gained by throwing the ball above a chosen spot on the border of the play field. The field is a huge sand pit. A main referee along with a field master and six linesmen monitor the game.
The game was played and is still continued to be played once in a year in the heart of Florence city at the Piazza St Croce. This ensures that nobody in the area misses the annual event. Just like the Palio de Siena, there is a lot of pomp and show before the game commences. There is an extensive parade and marching of the military in colorful historical costumes. Not only are the parading people, even the players are dressed in colorful traditional costumes. Even the spectators become so immersed in the celebrations that sometimes they also find it interesting to come in colorful attires to witness the match.
Florence had many powerful noble families. Four most powerful families of the lot had devised the game with one intention – to demonstrate their physical strength to everyone including their enemies. The show was the privilege only for the ruling class and did not include men belonging to the working class of the society. The show also depicted the monetary power as well as their brutal force.