Eric Lombard, a twenty-five year-old former college football star, is visiting Florence with his girlfriend, Colleen. They’re staying with his cousin Anna, who now lives there, teaching Italian to foreign students. On their last day in Florence, Eric makes an elaborate, romantic proposal of marriage to Colleen -- but, to his shock, she turns him down, and heads back home to the States. Eric stays behind, heartbroken, unsure what to do next. Through Gianni, Anna’s affable but enigmatic husband, Eric gets involved in calcio storico, an often-violent sport that is played every summer in Florence. A unique amalgam of rugby and street fighting, calcio storico is a competition between the four quarters of the city, each of which fills its team with its toughest residents. Eric’s athleticism makes him a natural for this sport, and his playing brings him into contact with Stefania, the beautiful sister of Gianni -- and girlfriend of Paolo, the noble, aging team captain. Eric and Paolo power their team to victory in the first match, leading them into the finals a few days later. Eric experiences the full range of the calcio storico lifestyle: the pre-game parade, a marvel of pageantry in which hundreds of locals march through the ancient streets in medieval garb; the arduous hours unloading produce in the night market with the other players; the raucous post-game revels of the victors and their fans; and the threats that come from those who don’t think a foreigner like Eric should be playing in this most Florentine of sports. Eric and Stefania quickly grow closer; when Paolo finds out, he feels betrayed by his "brother" in calcio storico. Although it compromises his last chance at glory -- he will be retiring from calcio storico after this year, and he needs a victory to ensure his permanent reputation -- Paolo kicks Eric off the team. Finally, then, Eric is forced to seize his own destiny. He must convince Paolo to let him back on the team, he must overcome the doubters who think him incapable of leading his team to victory – and, just when he’s at his most vulnerable, his old girlfriend, Colleen, shows up at his doorstep, apologizing and pleading for him to come back home. So Eric must decide: What does he really want, and how hard is he willing to fight for it?