Italy’s most popular card games

Italy’s most popular card games

If you have ever wandered around an Italian town or village, the chances are you will have witnessed a familiar scene. Elderly men and women sitting around a table in a park or on the sidewalk playing cards. You may even have paused to watch the game and found it pretty much impenetrable. They were probably playing one of Italy’s most popular national card games: Tressette, Briscola, or Scopa. Let’s take a look at these games and perhaps you can join in next time you see a group of Italians enjoying a game of cards!

Italian Playing Cards

No article about card games in Italy would be complete without a nod to the Italian playing cards, or carte da gioco italiane.

This deck is 40 cards (you can use a 52-card deck with the eights, nines, and tens removed). The decks can vary by region, and carry unique designs and symbols that reflect local customs, historical periods, and folklore.

Each deck incorporates traditional suits like swords, clubs, cups, and coins, medieval symbols that allude to various facets of life during historic times, from nobility to commerce. The artwork on these cards often features historical figures and mythological scenes, acting as a narrative tool that preserves and conveys local stories and cultural values. The photo at the top of this article features Napoletan cards, the most common playing cards in italy, often used to play games like “Scopa”, “Briscola” and “Rubamazzetto.”

Let’s look a few of those games!


Tressette is a trick-taking card game, which can be played by two to four players, although traditionally two teams of two players compete against each other. The aim of Tressette is to reach 21 points. The game uses the 40-card Italian deck . Each player receives ten cards with each card possessing a point value. The first card is placed by the player sitting to the right of the dealer and the suit of the card they put down is the only suit that can win the hand. To win a hand you must place a card of the same suit with a higher value. The overall winner is determined by the player with the highest points of cards in their possession.

Italian card games require the type of skills and strategies, including the ability to carefully select the correct card and develop a game strategy, which are also useful when playing traditional mainstream card games such as poker. As the old adage goes, practice makes perfect and via you can try your hand at poker by taking advantage of deposit bonuses. The site supplies all you need to know about the top online gambling sites in the country by providing in-depth reviews on the various features, as well as an overall score out of five.


Briscola uses the 40-card Italian deck, featuring the traditional suits of swords, clubs, cups, and coins. Briscola is one of Italy’s most popular card games and can be played by two to six players, making it a versatile and social game.

Briscola is another trick-taking card game and is played by two to six players or as two or three teams of two players. The objective of Briscola is to emerge victorious in the most rounds or reach a stipulated total of points. Each player receives three cards and the high suit or Briscola is determined by revealing the top card of the remaining deck. If a player places a Briscola card, only a higher value of this suit can win. The player collects the cards from the winning hand to add to their final points total. Briscola is popular in Southern Italy such as the region of Calabria, with more information about the popular tourist destination available at, so you can be prepared for a game when you visit the region.


Scopa is the Italian word for sweep and this game is played by two to four players or as two teams of two players. It is traditionally played with one of the Italian playing card decks. Most commonly, it uses a 40-card deck, which is standard in several regional variants of Italian playing cards such as the Neapolitan, Sicilian, Piacentine, or Tuscan decks.

Scopa, along with Briscola and Tressette, ranks among the most popular traditional Italian card games. In Scopa, players alternate playing a card from their hand to capture cards of equivalent value on the table. Points are scored for various achievements: capturing the most cards overall, capturing the most in the coins suit (also known as diamonds), assembling the highest-ranking primiera (a set consisting of one card from each suit, with sevens being the highest), securing the settebello (the seven of coins), and performing a scopa, which means capturing all the cards on the table in one play, leaving it empty.

Played throughout Italy, Scopa utilizes a 40-card pack reflective of the local design, and features numerous regional variants, some of which are detailed following the basic game rules here. Similar card games are also found in nearby countries, including Escoba in Spain, Chkouba in Algeria and Tunisia, and Scopa in Corsica.

For those seeking a more challenging variation, Scopone offers an intellectually engaging alternative. Played by four players, Scopone follows similar rules and scoring as Scopa but starts with all cards dealt out, giving each player a hand of 9 or 10 cards. More details on how to play Scopa andScopone can be found on this dedicated page on

This game is popular in Sicily, with more information about the region available at, so there is nothing stopping you from playing when you visit the Mediterranean island.