The traditional game of Ruzzola


A traditional hobby

Italy is a country where ancient traditions are still alive as are certain type of games. One of these is the “ruzzola” which boasts an ancient tradition and was practiced in various Italian regions. Playing Ruzzola was frequent especially with popular classes. This happened until the end of the 19th century. Italian Traditions will lead you to the discovery of this ancient sport through its history and of its rules. Finally we will talk about how it is practiced today.


What is it

Ruzzola is a traditional game that takes its name from the tool that is used. This was originally a form of seasoned pecorino cheese. Over time it has been replaced with the use of a wooden cylinder. Over the years it has been banned several times because of the danger and above all because it is linked to gambling. In fact during the games money bets were often made on the winner. Today this sport is regulated by the Italian Federation of traditional games and it is practiced in particular in some areas of the peninsula.

Its origins

The origins of the Ruzzola game are uncertain but definitely date back to ancient times. The game consisted of throwing a form of seasoned pecorino cheese. Most of the players were farmers and shepherds. The winner was the one who managed to launch it the farthest. This happened on a grassy path with various slopes that favored the rolling of the form.

Playing ruzzola was probably already popular at the time of the Etruscans as evidenced by the findings inside a tomb that is located in the necropolis of Tarquinia. In the medieval period it was particularly widespread in its practice. Its reputation, however, was ambivalent because some saw it in a negative way because of the disputes and quarrels that very often caused. With the transition to the wooden instrument the prize went from being the form itself to money. Its rediscovery took place in the nineteenth century.



The rules of the game

In short, the regulation concerning how to play Ruzzola is very simple. The wooden disk has a variable diameter but it usually measures 13 centimeters. Wrapping a string around the disk, it is launched by unwinding the string with one end held in one hand. The ideal launch is made by making a rotation that allows the wood to roll on the ground. The aim is to reach a fixed point with the least possible number of launches. Alternatively there is a goal that must be reached with the least possible number of launches.


The game today

Today it is recognized by the Italian Sport Federation (CONI) and the federation itself organizes numerous tournaments and events every year throughout the peninsula. Even today in some regions it is practiced to celebrate certain holidays. This happens for example in the area of ​​the Abruzzi where it is a typical Carnival game. This local version calls for the launch of a cylinder along an established path until it reaches the door of a cellar. The winner is the one who hits it first.

Some games are part of popular tradition and are still practiced today. If you want to find out more about this topic, we suggest you read this article too. Now that you know how to play Ruzzola you just have to try it.


1 comment

  1. Anche nel mio paese, il borgo medievale di Pereta, nella Maremma grossetana, per mia iniziativa da oltre 10 anni è stata ripresa la tradizione della ruzzola. Qui rispetto ad altre località si utilizza la forma di formaggio, il tiro è effettuato a mano libera (cioè senza l’impiego di un nastro) e la gara si svolge su un percorso ricavato nelle vie paesane seguendo le regole del gioco dei tappini (chi esce dal percorso torna al punto da cui ha tirato e se la forma di formaggio torna indietro si riparte da dove si ferma).

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