Traditional Games Italian Children Play

By Mark Keller

Variations of many traditional children's games are played around the world. Many popular Italian children's games are often played outdoors, and require several participants but little to no equipment. Italian games also often include chants or rhymes that are incorporated into the play.

Lupo delle ore

This game requires a minimum of 3 players, although groups of 7 players are ideal. One player is the "lupo" ("wolf"), and stands with his back to the others, who form a line at a designated distance from him. They players call out "Lupo che ore sono?" ("Wolf, what time is it?"), and the wolf answers with a number. The players can then take that many steps toward him, and ask again. If, instead of a number, the wolf responds with "Ho fame!" ("I'm hungry!"), he can turn around and try to tag as many of the children as he can before they make it safely back to the starting line.

Regina, Regina Bella

This game requires a minimum of 4 players minimum,although groups of 10 are ideal. One player is chosen to be the "regina" ("queen"), who stands facing the others across the playground. The other children chant:

"Regina Regina bella, quanti passi devo fare per arrivare al tuo castello con la fede, con l’anello, con la punta del coltello?"

("Beautiful, beautiful Queen, how many steps do I have to take to get to your castle with the faith, with the ring, with the tip of the knife?")

The queen then calls out both a number and the name of an animal. The children must take that many steps toward her, walking in imitation of the animal named. The first child to reach the queen wins.

Fazzoletto peo peo

This game requires a minimum of 5 players, although groups of 14 are ideal. The players all sit in a circle except for one who walks around the outside of the circle carrying a handkerchief. The others chant:

"Fazzoletto Peo Peo se ti trovo ti dareo se ti trovo in un canton ti darei uno scupazon"

("Peo Peo Handkerchief If you find you give if you're in a corner I will give you a scupazon")

The outside child drops the handkerchief behind the back of one of the sitting children. This child then gets up, and he and the handkerchief-bearer race around the circle in opposite directions in attempt to be the first to sit down in the empty spot.

Strega comanda color

This game requires a minimum of 3 players, although groups of 11 are ideal. One player is chosen as the "strega" ("witch"), who calls out a color. The others must touch an object of that color, whether it be an article of clothing or something in the surrounding environment, before the witch can catch them. The first child tagged becomes the next witch. If the current witch is unsuccessful, she must call out another color.