Tombola napoletana

A white Christmas in Italy deserves some traditional Christmas games, and this year we couldn’t be the exception.
A few days before New Year’s Eve we organized a game night with friends to get together around a table and laugh all night.
We started with an unavoidable tombola (similar to Bingo), ours was the Neapolitan version: every box in the card has a number, with the corresponding name written in three languages: Italian, English and Neapolitan dialect! In almost every box you can also find an image representing that number. Take for instance my mum’s lucky number 57: in the box you can see the number, the name and its translations (Hunchback, ‘O Scartellato, Il gobbo) and a poor man with a walking stick!


I did not win, not even the minimum prize. But it was a lot of fun! Then we moved on with a more abruzzese style game: zompa cavallo ( I’d venture to say “jump the horse”). It is a card game played with Neapolitan cards, very easy to play. Basically every player has three lives, at the end of each move the lowest card loses a life. When someone finishes all his lives we call him “il morto” (the dead). Il morto has now to try and annoy the still living players at the table, if he can make them talk to him (no matter how) then he gets a life back and goes back into the game! I know it sounds silly, and in fact it is, but I find it funny to play with good friends.

Carte napoletane

Later on we had some pasta e ceci (pasta in a chickpeas soup) that my mum had lovingly prepared for us. To finish our dinner, it cannot be Christmas without the typical sweets: torrone, pandoro and panettone. Very hard to resist! But I have to say I was amazed with my improving ability to say “no, grazie”. After, we went back to play “sette e mezzo”, I would say…more or less like its American cousin 21! But less gamble and more Italian cards!


At the end of the night we relaxed with a “Giulia style” game. Everyone wears a sticky on his forehead with the name of a movie or a vip written on. The player wearing it does not know the name he’s showing and in turn he has to ask questions to solve the mystery. I love this brain wrecking, riddle kind of games!


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