Articles Gaming Scene Ubarose Went to Italy and All We Got Were These Crappy Cards

Ubarose Went to Italy and All We Got Were These Crappy Cards ubarose Hot

Written by ubarose     July 08, 2009    
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modiano.jpgI'm giving away a souvenir of sunny Italy - very hot, very sunny Italy. It's a set of Napoletane playing cards. Yes, I know you can get these on Amazon, but I purchased these at a real, Italian Tabaccheria in Amalfi - a tiny, dark, and refreshingly cool tobacco shop in very hot, very sunny Amalfi.

By the way, screw video games! I drove the Amalfi coast highway in a Ford Mini-Van, with two old people and a 10 year old jabbering at me. Unfortunately, the Spawn's most vivid memory of the wonders of Italy will forever be of her mother telling her grandparents to "Shut the fuck up!" I managed to avoid the bus, the scooters, the pole and the baby carriage, but not the wall. I lost the side rear view mirror - but in a way that made driving easier. You don't want to mess with the mad-eyed, white-knuckled woman driving a huge mini-van that has it's shattered rear view mirror hanging by a bit of wire and first aid tape.

I also got to help push Short Tush Pinching Man off a crowded bus. Nana got him good with her elbow, but the really short, really wide old Italian lady really gave him what for. I'm not sure what she was yelling as pushed his ass into the street, but it sounded good. Also, in Rome I'm not short. I'm also not loud and not over dressed. Rome is cool.


But back to the cards. This is what I learned about Italian playing cards.

Italian playing cards most commonly consist of 40 cards. There are 4 suits with pip cards numbered from 1-7,  and 3 face cards - King, Cavallo (calvary man) and Fante (Infantry Man), except in the French style which uses a Queen instead of a Cavallo.

Italian playing cards first appeared in the late 14th century when each region within Italy was a separately ruled province. Each region uses its own style of playing cards. There are 16 patterns of Italian playing cards divided into four regional styles: Northern, French, Spanish, and German.

The deck I am giving away is in the Spanish Style, which uses the Spanish suits of Coins, Cups, Swords and Batons. I picked these because they looked the most unlike our standard playing cards. They use a full range of colors, ornate details and shading. The Northern Style uses just red, blue and yellow with no shading. The French Style looks like our standard playing cards. I couldn't find out anything about the German Style.

In Italy these cards are used to play Scopa, and I assume other games as well. The only game I know how to play with these cards is Broom which I played as a kid, and which I now realize was clearly just a simplified varient of Scopa for kids.  

Anyway, if you want to be entered in a random drawing for this deck, add an interesting comment to this article about vacations, or card games, or driving cars, or whatever. Just don't bore me.

Contest ends midnight, Monday July 13

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Comments (12)
  • avatarMattLoter

    You really should have just rented a Vespa...

  • avatarquozl

    I was doing 80 on a freeway going up this little hill and at the top I see everybody stopped in front of me for some accident or construction or something. So I hit the brakes but I'm not going to be able to stop in time. I swerve over to the shoulder on the left, still braking and I stopped safely, about 5 cars from the end of the line. I looked over at the car next to me, waved, and then backed up and got where I was supposed to be. Fun!

    I've played Scopa before using American cards. Pretty mindless but somewhat fun. I'd love to have an authentic deck to play it with.

  • avatarmetalface13

    I completely knocked off the driver's side rear view mirror of my parents red Ford Taurus while backing out of the garage when I was 16. On another occasion I scrapped the passenger's side mirror against my parent's friend's minivan that was parked in front of the garage leaving a nice red streak against the van's metallic blue.

    Few things suck as much as a teenager then fessing up to your parents that you damaged the car.

  • avatarSagrilarus

    So one of my two youngest is running ahead in the parking lot at Disney World this past March, in front of cars no less causing one of them to swerve and brake to avoid him. So I use "the voice" -- I'm a bass and can put out some heavy low-end volume when one of my kids begs for it. He stops, and as I close the gap with the knucklehead and begin explaining just how much death hurts, my Ma chimes in behind me with, "oh, you used to do that kind of thing all the time."

    This was about the fifth time that day Ma had gone off message with something like that, giving my kids cover for stupid behavior, and I just popped. I turned around and eyeballed her and bellowed, "would you get on the Goddamned team for just one minute!"

    Vacations are magical.


  • avatarspleek

    I am glad I was not driving when I read Sags post, that is fucking hilarious......

    I have a photo of a good friend drunk at Universal Studios trying to steal a Stormtroopers gun. Good times...

    Hey Mom..."would you get on the Goddamned team for just one minute!"

  • avatarMattDP

    The Europeans might make a lot of crappy boardgames, but we aren't half good at card games. I used to live with an Italian guy. He taught me how to play Scopa and we played it ... basically every night. After night. After night. And it never got old. And it carried on right up until the point we got him hooked on M:tG. Hah! Take that 500 years of Italian tradition!

    Hope you had a good holiday!

  • avatarmoofrank

    Best deck I ever found is an Italian Tarot deck. Tarocco dell'Orror.

    Pics here:

  • Mr Skeletor

    Great pickup, the Napoletane cards are by far the best ones for playing the Italian Card games.

  • avatarubarose

    @ Matt

    But where would we put the luggage? I actually reserved a much smaller car, but got "upgraded."

    @ quozl

    HA! I've done that before, but I wasn't doing 80. I just hit a patch of ice. The dudes behind me all hit into each other. Not pretty.

    @ metalface13

    My dad got us this really butt ugly, lime green Chevette as the "kids" car. By the time I got my turn on it, it was so beat to shit that no one noticed any additional damage I might have done to the car. I do remember backing over a friend's mailbox.

    @ Sagrilarus


    @ moofrank

    I knew you would show up here with some freaky cards to share, bit those exceed expectation.

    @ Mr. S

    Why do you think the Napoletane cards are the best? I just picked them because they looked pretty. Do you know other games that can be played with them?

  • avatarbillyz

    I've got a set or twp of Napoletanes somewhere in the house. The problem is that Helen, my wife, hands my ass to me whenever we play any of the Italian games. her grandmother on her dad's side was full blood Italian and, by all accounts, one hell of a card player-- she just so happenned to teach the wife evrything she knew.

    Including how to be a terrible winner.

  • avatarmoofrank


    If you don't know about Pagat, you really need to go there. It is an amazing and well-hyperlinked archive of information about card games.

  • avatarMerkles

    Ah, just got back from a vacation camping in the wilds of Colorado. No showers, no running water, pit toilets, etc. It was great (the camping part, that is). Truly.

    What sucks is the driving part---11 hour drive with two kids and the wife can be draining. My kids keep telling me that I'm speeding (they have a GPS that we've used for geocaching--and it says how fast I'm going). My wife keeps looking over at the spedometer. And I only go about 4 miles over the speed limit! But...I hold it together...until the McDonalds. I tend to be the type of vacation driver that doesn't mind stopping at roadside attractions, etc...but when it comes to gas and to fast food (as opposed to finding greasy spoons and spending time enjoying htat), then I'm all organization and time-nazi. Taking the time to figure out what you want at McDonalds is not rocket science--and when a busload comes in and we have to stand back b/c the family hasn't decided yet and we have to wait an extra 25 minutes...that's it!!!

    Sigh...sorta forgotten about today--but, of course, I was the bad guy.

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