Scopa (meaning “to sweep” or “broom”) is a 400-year-old Italian card game, played in most regions of the country using the Piacentine, Napolitane, or Triestine pack of cards. There are other variations such as Scopone, as well as other types of cards, and each region will claim that their way is best in typical Italian fashion.
The traditional Italian deck has 40 cards, divided into four suits, called
Denari (coins), Coppe, (cups), Spade (swords) and Bastoni (clubs). Each suit has values from 1 to 7; plus the knave, the horse and the king, which are worth respectively 8, 9 and 10.
The object of the game is to “sweep” the table by clearing the remaining pile cards, thus earning a point. One may also score by…
…capturing more cards than all other opponents
…capturing more Coin cards than all other opponents
…capturing the 7 of Coins, known as settebello (The beautiful seven)
…having the higher primiera (determined by calculating the value from the best card from each suit in your hand, but which uses a wholly different card/value system…7s are highest, then sixes, aces, fives, etc.)
It is common to find friends playing in cafés and talking up a storm, for psyching out one’s opponent is a skill just as valued as memory. So, the next time you see them, put down your cappuccino and challenge them to a game with a few colorful words of your own!
(For more in-depth rules check out this site)
Writer, editor, American University of Rome graduate, Italian Notebook Editorial Intern.