Hopscotch in Italy

Written by Emanuela Marsura, a schoolteacher from Italy. Emanuela is interested in reviving the old-time games of childhood. A time when all children would play outside together, regardless of age. A time when most games were played with inexpensive objects that everyone can easily find.


A child possesses two nimble feet to run and jump… Two hands always in motion doing things… a talkative mouth to ask everything… Two ever-attentive ears always absorbed in listening… Two big eyes open wide to search for everything… and a little heart to love a lot!

A courtyard, a spot on the beach or a paved and traffic-free square creates a common space for children and adults, where a few chat, some read and others play.

A child needs little to play…

Only a step on a staircase or any other elevation is needed to play “Salto biralto, se rompe el naso se rompe el viso, salto in Paradiso!” (Jump, birump, I break my nose, I break my face, I jump into Paradise) and one jumps down. Anyone who knows how to jump from a very high place is worthy of the admiration of all.

Intertwined lines are enough to play a tic-tac-toe, a circle to play prison ball with a surface bounded by sweaters to mark the corners.

Simple squares arranged next to each other in variable combinations, depending on the culture, are needed to create “hopscotch”, also called “settimana, riga, mondo, paradiso” (week, row, world, paradise). It’s an old game that fascinates both children and adults.

Hopscotch is a simple and entertaining game for two or more players that’s good for the development of balance and concentration in young boys and girls, who must at least coordinate their eyes, hands and feet to pass the test.

A piece of chalk or a colored stone is used to draw the lines, or a small stick in the dirt or sand. Each player needs a flat pebble or a piece of pottery.

To make the hopscotch “course” in Italy 10 boxes are drawn in a column following this scheme: First 3 single squares drawn vertically one on top of the other, then two are drawn next to each other, then another single square, then two more next to each other, then another single square and the final one is usually a larger rectangle or a semicircle.

How Hopscotch is played in Italy (and many other countries)…

1st Round:

• The player throws the pebble in the number one box. It has to land inside the box and not touch the edges.
• The player goes through the course by jumping on one foot in the single boxes and jumping on both feet (one per box) when there are 2 boxes next to each other..
• On reaching the final square he turns around jumping on both feet.
• The player then hops back through the course, stopping on the box right before the box that has his pebble and he picks it up and returns to the first box.
• He goes around again by throwing the pebble in the next box and so on for all 10 boxes.

2nd round (and following):
• Slowly walk the course again carrying the stone in the following ways: in the palm, on the back of the hand, on the tip of the shoe, on the chest, on the shoulder, on the head and on the forehead, all without dropping it.
• Since we must not touch the lines when we walk with the pebble on the forehead and we cannot control where we put our feet, we ask for help from the other players. The one who walks says “Am” and the one watching the course responds “Salam” if the player was about to go over the line, and “brucichino” if the foot was about to land on it.

The overall rules are very simple:

• You must skip the box in which you’ve thrown the pebble, which you collect on the return course.
• It’s the next player’s turn if you walk on a line, or if you go out of the boxes (even if you lose your balance), or if you put both feet on the ground in a single box, or if the pebble bounces outside the box when it’s thrown.
• The next turn, we start again by throwing the pebble in the box where we stopped.

Whoever finishes the course before everyone else is naturally the winner.

Many thanks to Emanuela Marsura for explaining how Hopscotch is played in Italy!  A longer version of this article was first published in Italian in Emanuela Marsura’s section of QualBuonVento magazine.

This article was posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 at 2:42 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Games Around the World, Hopscotch, Italy, Mama Lisa. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

One Response to “Hopscotch in Italy”

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