Italian Playing Cards

The Italian deck of cards

The Neapolitan card game or also known as the Italian card game is one of the oldest variants of a card game. It therefore has a great tradition and many different games. In For Cards Lovers we will show you all kinds of information and games concerning the Italian or Neapolitan card game.


History of the Italian card game

As mentioned, the Neapolitan deck is one of the oldest, perhaps adapted from the Spanish card game during the domination of Naples by the Kingdom of Aragon since 1442. The later evolution of the Spanish deck seems to be more important than that of the Italian deck, which still reminds us of the old bridges.


Number of cards in the Italian game

The Italian or Neapolitan card game has a total of 40 cards of four suits. The first eight are numbered from 1 to 7 and the quantity of items according to the number and combination can be seen. The last three represent three different noble characters. Unlike the others, the cards do not have a drawn number or edge according to the colour, but only the iconography, so they are totally visual.


The number 8 is a page or better known as "sota", the number 9 is a knight who is usually represented at the top of the horse or holding the reins and the number 10 is the king who is usually represented by an older man with a thick beard and a crown.


Italian Card Game Signs

The costumes are the same as those of the Spanish deck, although we have found some small variations.


These suits are: oros or denari, espadas or spade, coppe or coppe and bastos or bastoni, although the order is not the same: the spade precedes the coppe.

The colours of the figures and clubs are red, green, gold and blue. The connection with the sticks seems obvious: the gold of the denari, the blue of the spade, the red of the wine of the coppe and the green of the bastoni.

These signs also represent the different parts of medieval society, the golds would be the merchants, the cups the clergy, the swords the nobility and the coarse the peasants and the people of the plain.

The main games of the Italian card game

With the Neapolitan card game you can play a variety of fun games. Among them are card games to play alone, in pairs or in groups, which can have very different objectives.


In this section, we present the most popular and fun games


  • Scopa

Scopa, also known as Italian broom, is one of the most popular Neapolitan card games in Italy. It has been known since the 16th century, and there is every indication that the scopa is the origin of the popular Spanish card game.

It is played in as many hands or partial games as necessary until a certain number of goals are reached before the game begins.

To achieve these objectives, players must take possession of the cards on the table.


The hand will begin with a move (to the right of the dealer), who will use one of the cards from his hand. If the card matches the number of cards on the table, the player takes both cards.

If there is no card of the same number as the played card, and only in this case, a deck of cards of the same amount as the played card will be taken from the table.

If one of the players, in turn, takes all the cards that are on the table, he will make a scopa, and mark it in his pile of captured cards, leaving one of the folded cards in his pile, and face up.

This move will be repeated by all players, passing successively from one turn to the one to their right, and until the three cards initially dealt to each player are completed. At this point, the player who has been dealt must start again as before, repeating this whole system of dealing and discarding until the cards in the deck are finished.

At the end of the hand (all the cards in the deck are dealt), the last player who managed to take the cards in turn will take the remaining cards in the middle.

  • The Fisherman

It is an ideal card game to play with young children who already understand numbers and colours. It requires at least two players to play and the objective is to form as many series of four cards of the same number as possible.


Each player is dealt five cards, if there are only two people, they are dealt seven. The remaining deck of cards is the "ocean" and all players can use it.

Each turn, each player asks the player to his left for a certain number of cards in hand. If the player who is asked for one or more cards with that number, he must hand them to the person who asked for them, otherwise he must say "Go fishing!" and take a card from the deck.

If the card you have just taken from the "ocean" matches the one that was asked for, you must say "good catch" and you can continue playing, otherwise you must give the turn to the next person.

The game ends when all groups of four cards have been formed on the table; each player must put the cards he has collected face up. The player with the most groups wins the round.

  • Stolen house

The objective is to get as many cards as possible. At the beginning, 3 cards are dealt to each player and 4 cards are placed face up on the table.

In your turn, you can draw cards that are on the table and have the same suit as the one you have in your hand. If you don't have any of the suits on the table, you must discard a card. If there are two cards of the same suit on the table, remember that you can only take one.

The two cards that each player manages to collect are part of his "pot" and he puts them next to him, face up, so that others can see them. The next player can either make pairs with the open cards on the table or with the previous player's pot.

Once each player has played their first three cards, three more are dealt and played in the same way. The player with the most cards in his pot wins.

Editorial Team

Bibliography consulted

Forcardslovers was created by a group of card game enthusiasts. ForCardslovers.com is a website where we share the meaning and the interpretation of cartomancy, as well as our favourite games with the different cards that exist in the world and, moreover, you can play online the card games of the moment. Enter and discover also different magic tricks to surprise your family or friends!