We were in Italy last week. Two years ago we checked the jesters in Florence, this time I checked the background on San Marco. Well, actually we resided in Bardolino on the Lake Garda, but we made a day-trip to Venice (by the way: the anglicized names of the Italian cities really bug me… It’s Firenze, not Florence! Venezia sounds so much better than Venice, too.)
Venice is certainly worth visiting; it’s such a curious city. Obviously we took a gondola ride down the Canal Grande to the Rialto bridge; that or a waterbus is must, because you can’t get Venice unless you travel their streets.
The visit left me wanting to play Serenissima, Doge, Machiavelli or something about Venice… You see, Venice wasn’t just a city — it was a Mediterranean superpower, a republic that ruled the region for thousand years. Not a bad feat.
We also visited Verona twice; first for opera, then for shopping. Puccini’s Turandot on the huge Roman amphitheatre was a spectacular experience. Definitely worth checking out, even if the stone benches are rather uncomfortable.
What comes to games, Italy isn’t the hottest destination. Few stores had games; I saw some Italian mass-market card games, but nothing really interesting.
I did saw games played, though. On the first night, we went to the hotel pool bar only to see tables full of people playing cards. An elderly couple had a Travel Scrabble that looked a bit older than the one we have. Another couple played something that looked like Tri-Ominos.
Last day I saw a bunch of local men playing cards at a cafe. I picked up few things during the fifteen minutes or so I watched them play while we ate ice-cream. They were playing a trick-taking game and had played it before: their play was lightning-fast at times. Another, more interesting fact was the deck they used: it had latin suits and I think it might’ve been a Tarot deck. That’s something I’d like to have, by the way: a decent Tarot deck. Not one of those fortune-telling decks with extra-large cards, but one that’s good for playing.
We too spent some time playing games at the hotel. We played Mhing, which is just about the best two-player card game there is. At least with Johanna, that is. She loves the game and beats me most of the time (we played a quick match yesterday; she smoked me 400-0 and then proceeded to kick my butt in Trivial Pursuit).
The hotel had nice card game tables, too. The tables had green felt with black wooden outsides and pull drawers with space for chips and drinks. Very nice, though they didn’t have proper chairs to go with them. We tried them anyway and I sure wouldn’t mind having a felt-covered table for playing cards.