I'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