After last weekend's semi-final matches, the Bianchi and the Azzurri will face off in the calcio fiorentino (Florentine soccer) championship in Piazza Santa Croce Sunday, the feast of Florence's patron saint St. John, after the film I Gladiatori del Calcio (The Football Gladiators) previews at the Odeon Friday.
Originally known as "giuoco del calcio fiorentino", which was the progenitor of the Italian word calcio, calcio fiorentino dates back to 1530. The brutal game with 27 shirtless players per team battling for 50 minutes is more akin to rugby than modern football. Players can engage in almost any sort of malicious contact, even head-butting and chocking, only sucker punching and kicks to the head are prohibited.
Four teams, the Azzurri (Blues) of Santa Croce, the Rossi (Reds) of Santa Maria Novella, the Bianchi (Whites) of Santo Spirito, and the Verdi (Greens) of San Giovanni, faced off last weekend in the semi-finals, where the Azzurri crushed the Rossi 11-0.
Before the finals, Fabio Segatori's documentary film I Gladiatori del Calcio will show at the Odeon Theatre off the Piazza della Repubblica today at 8.30 pm with the director present for comments and questions. The film follows the players during their training period before the tournament, including shots of matches from a Spy Cam attached to the referee, bringing the viewer inside the game.
Calcio fiorentino "..is like Italy. A continuous fight over a handkerchief of land . . . The strongest, sveltest, most devious wins, but there is also courage, team spirit, and pride at being part of a community that will give everything they must", as Segatori told La Nazione.