Tombola (Italian Bingo)

Last night at the Sons of Italy club we played a game called Tombola (Italian Bingo).  It's different from regular Bingo in that you can only win horizontally from left to right, not top to bottom or diagonally.
If someone runs out of tokens to cover the numbers he can use the walnuts or almonds that are set out as a snack.

Another fun difference is that each number is associated with a meaning which is called out loud.
1 = Italy
13 = Saint Anthony
22 = The madman
21 = The naked woman
and so on.

It's played in 5 rounds:
1. Ambo: 1st person to cover 2 numbers in a row
2. Terno: 1st person to cover 3 numbers in a row
3. Quaderno: 1st person to cover 4 numbers in a row
4. Quinto: 1st person to cover 5 numbers in a row
5. Tombola: 1st person to cover all 15 numbers on the card

It's much easier than it sounds. There is an adult version and a children's version which has less racier meanings to call out.

I enjoyed it!


  1. I played many times... it's the typical simple game you can play while all together with the family and/or friends to spend some time in harmony ... for example now during the season eating hot chestnut and a nice glass of red wine ! of at the end of the year, enjoying the Christmas/new year days...
    really nice sir... it is really a very soft game, good for children and all of us.
    Who win the "tombola" win the best premium , while the other winning the smaller "terno, quaderno etc etc win something like small cakes, or just simple presents... (so that you can eat and eat, and drink.. you know hot it is :-)- ciao and thank you to let us know our traditions...

    1. Eating hot chestnuts and drinking red wine while playing Tombola sounds good.
      I'll have to buy a set for myself to play at home.

  2. To take it to the next level, ask a Neapolitan what numbers to play on the lottery. They start going into what dreams they've had, an accidental occurrences that's happened to them in the last couple of weeks and any secret coded messages they received through casual conversations with elderly relatives. It's a weird and wonderful alternative reality. That's the lotto.
    I've not had the privilege of playing Tombola but I've heard it's a big thing. Bingo is a big thing in the East End of London. Old ladies will literally knock you out at the bus stop if you get in their way of going to the bingo hall.

  3. That's funny!
    Maybe I should start looking for the hidden clues for picking lottery numbers like a Neapolitan picks them. Maybe it just might make me a wealthy man!
    Thanks again RPD for alerting me to the pen name error. I finally was able to fix it.
    ~Your friend John

  4. Hi John. I'm definitely not a game player, but over the years have heard of many. Mama used to love to play Bingo, Bunko, and several others... but I've never heard of Tombola.

    1. I've never heard of it either until last Sunday.

  5. Please let me know where I can buy this game. My email is:
    I am not very good on the computer,your help is greatly appreciated.
    I used to play this game at Christmas time with my eight siblings and parents and family in Vieste, Italy`.


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