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TOMBOLA Comenius Project “Building Bridges” 2013-2015

Tombola is a traditional board game born in Naples in the 18th century. According to the tradition, Tombola was born in Naples in 1734. Father Gregorio Maria Rocco wanted king Charles III to abolish Lotto, a very popular public lottery but the king preferred to keep it in order to have public control over gambling. In the end Lotto was kept but suspended during religious festivities, so people started playing tombola at Christmas.


What is Tombola and when do you play it?


Tombola is the most popular and traditional board game in southern Italy and it’s played at Christmas time by everyone.

What do you need to play Tombola?

! You need:

! A scoreboard on which there are numbers from 1 to 90; A bag in which there are 90 round pieces of wood with the numbers from 1 to 90 written on them; Scorecards in which there are 3 rows with 5 numbers on each one.

The rules of the game 1

! Fix a price for each scorecard. The players buy as many scorecards as they want, and only one of the players buys the scoreboard . The money is divided into five prizes, from the lowest to the highest, with tombola being the jackpot.


The rules of the game 2

! The player who has the scoreboard takes the numbers out of the sack one at a time, calls the number loudly and puts it on the scoreboard. The other players mark the numbers called on their scorecards. When all the numbers on a scorecard are marked you shout “tombola!�.


When do you win?

! You win when you make:

! the "ambo", two numbers on the same row the "terno", three numbers on the same row the "quaterna", four numbers on the same row the "cinquina", five numbers on the same row the "tombola", all numbers on the scorecard.

The Smorfia

! An original way to play Tombola in Italy is using the Neapolitan Smorfia. In Italian Smorfia is the name of a book where all numbers are associated with some images with a funny meaning. Someone says that it comes to us from Hebraic Cabala.

! !

Main differences between the ancient Tombola and the modern one


Originally, Tombola was composed by a scoreboard, some scorecards, a wicker basket in which there were some little wooden bottons with numbers. To mark the numbers on the scorecards people used some little pieces of orange peel or legumes.

Today Tombola is a bit different : the scorecards are made of plastic with plastic blinds to pull down when the number is called and the scoreboard includes a dice-box containing the numbers to take out.

COMENIUS TOMBOLA We have created a special tombola for our Comenius project. All the numbers on the scoreboard are associated with symbols of all the partner countries. Are you ready to play the Comenius Tombola with us? We hope you will enjoy it. Good luck!


History and rules of italian Christmas game Tombola

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