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Vsqve ad finem

Florence, Italy – June 2016; a player of the Bianchi (“Whites”) di Santo Spirito team is seen in a dressing room after the last training before a match of Calcio.


Vsqve ad finem, photo essay by Emanuele Cremaschi


Vsqve ad finem is a Latin motto meaning to the very end, primarily used by Gladiators and Roman legionaries. Often used in reference to battle, implying a willingness to keep fighting until you die.
Calcio Fiorentino is both an early form of soccer, originated in the 16th century in Italy, and an extremely violent game which combines elements of soccer, rugby and bare-knuckle fighting into one brutal and bloody event, in an apparent free-for-all of physical violence.

Born as an early form of football during the Renaissance in Italy, it originated from the ancient roman “harpastum” (which in Latin literally means to rip off) and is played on a sand covered field in teams of 27 on each side, allowing tactics such as punching, elbowing, and choking: martial arts techniques are permitted but it is prohibited for more than one player to attack an opponent.

The most famous match inspiring the modern reenactment took place on February 17, 1530 when the Florentines besieged by the imperial troops of Charles V decided to play Calcio as an act of defiance against the Holy Roman Emperor.
Currently the games between the players of the four historic quadrants of Florence are held in Piazza Santa Croce in June, on the occasion of the celebration of the city’s patron, St John the Baptist.

(by Emanuele Cremaschi)

The Captain and the Standard Bearer of the Bianchi (“Whites”) di Santo Spirito lead the march of the team through the centre of Florence before a match of Calcio Fiorentino.

Florence, Italy - June 2016; the Bianchi (“Whites") di Santo Spirito players bond before the start of a match against the Verdi (“Greens”). The match lasts for 50 minutes and no substitutions are allowed for injured or expelled players.

The Bianchi (“Whites”) di Santo Spirito players bond before the start of a match against the Verdi (“Greens”). The match lasts for 50 minutes and no substitutions are allowed for injured or expelled players.

Players of the Bianchi (“Whites”) di Santo Spirito team enter Santa Croce square for the match. The games between the teams of the four historic districts of Florence are held in June, on the occasion of the celebration of the city’s patron, St. John the Baptist.

The Pallaio (“man of the ball”) is seen on the field minutes before the kick-off of a match of Calcio. He’s the officer appointed to give the start to the games.

Players from the Bianchi (“Whites”) team are seen on the field minutes before a match. The match inspiring the modern reenactment took place in 1530 when the Florentines – besieged by the troops of Charles V – decided to play Calcio as an act of defiance against the emperor.

Players fight for possession of the ball during a match of Calcio Fiorentino. King Henry III of France, son of the Florentine noblewoman Catherine de’ Medici, in 1574 described Calcio as “too small to be a real war and too cruel to be a game”.

Calcio is played on a sand covered field in teams of 27 on each side, allowing tactics such as punching, elbowing, and choking: martial arts are permitted but it is prohibited for more than one player to attack an opponent.

Florence, Italy - June 2016; players fight for possession of the ball during a match of Calcio Fiorentino. King Henry III of France, son of the Florentine noblewoman Catherine de' Medici, in 1574 described Calcio as "too small to be a real war and too cruel to be a game”.

Florence, Italy - June 2016; a Calciante (player of Calcio) of the Verdi (“Greens”) di San Giovanni team is escorted by a paramedic out of the field after having received a violent jab during a match of Calcio Fiorentino.

Florence, Italy - June 2016; the Bianchi (“Whites") di Santo Spirito celebrate after having defeated the opponent team of the Verdi (“Greens”).

Maurizio Bonfiglio, member of the Bianchi, shows a tattoo reading “Usque ad finem”, a Latin motto meaning “to the very end”. Primarily used by Gladiators and Roman legionaries, it implies a willingness to keep fighting until you die.

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