June in Florence then it must be Calcio Storico

June in Florence then it must be Calcio Storico
Living in Florence Italy while I was in school gave me the chance to see Florence
in a whole different way. One of my best memories of my time there is 
an event in June, Calcio Storico. It's also known as Historical Football. It's a sporting event that is a combination of rugby, soccer, and wrestling and maybe a bit of boxing from what I saw. It originated in the 16th century. The final game is always played on the feast day of John the baptist.
The four neighborhoods compete against each other every year to see who takes
home the title. It is extremely competitive and trained for all year. Santa Croce is the blue team, Santo Spirito is the white, Santa Maria Novella the reds, and San Giovani is the green team. 
It is held in the piazza in front of Santa Croce, the church where Michelangelo, Dante, and Galileo are buried. They fill the square with sand and surround it with bleachers for the fans. The two ends of the piazza are reserved for the two neighborhoods that are playing that day. When I was there it was the red team and white team playing. As a visitor it's best to be on the side bleachers. The neighborhoods can get pretty boisterous.
It starts with a procession before the players enter the field. All are dressed in historical costume even the players.The procession in historical costume before the game
Below is a photo taken by me from the visitor bleachers towards Santa Croce with the bleachers filled with the red neighborhood. The church of Santa Croce with the bleachers filled with the red neighborhood
Before the procession is even ended the neighborhoods are setting off smoke bombs with their neighborhood colors.
The red team bleachers using smoke bombs signifying their colors
The white bleachers will not be outdone.
White bleachers
white bleachers setting off white smoke bombs
White team setting of smoke bombs and now fireworks
And me using a shirt to filter out some of the smoke. 
me with a shirt over my mouth to filter out the smoke
The players have been training the whole year for this and they look it. the goal is to get the ball across to the end zone using your hands or feet. Players are allowed to wrestle, tackle and box each other. 
Players wrestling on the field
This last photo is not mine but gives you a better idea of the game. 
This was an amazing experience. A memory I won't forget.