Pallone (Italian for an inflated ball, similar to the word balloon) is the name of several traditional ball games, played in various regions of Italy, with minimal differences in regulations.


Pallone col bracciale

Pallone col bracciale or simply bracciale was particularly popular throughout northern and central Italy in the 18th century and 19th century; it was considered the most popular sport of ancient Italian national sports and its first official regulations invented by Antonio Scaino from Salò date back to 1555. This sport and his champions were described by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Giacomo Leopardi, Edmondo de Amicis, Antonio Francesco Grazzini, Ottavio Rinuccini, Gabriello Chiabrera, Tommaso Grossi, Giuseppe Gioachino Belli. Where Angels Fear to Tread (1991) includes a brief film depiction of this game.

Balls are struck back and forth with a wooden cylinder, called a bracciale, worn over the forearm: if carelessly played, a broken arm can result because bracciale weighs 2 or 1 kilogram. Originally the ball was inflated, but now hard rubber ball is used: this ball has circumference of 39 centimetres and weighs 350 grams. Scoring is by fifteens and teens, as in tennis, in this manner: 15 - 30 - 40 - 50 or victory of a game; the team which wins 12 games is final winner of the match. A notable feature is that the ball is put into play by a designated server, called mandarino, who otherwise is not part of the game. The receivers can reject serves at will. Pallone is often played on courts marked out on town streets.

Now they play two kinds of this game:

  • it's played in particular sports venue called sphaeristerium, or in Italian language sferisterio, 80 metres long and 18 metres large with a lateral wall which is 20 metres high and permits rebound of ball. In this game's kind each team has 3 players called: battitore, spalla and terzino.
  • it's played in open playing field without lateral wall. In this game's kind each team has 4 players.

A pallone player is called pallonista. Celebrated former professional champions include:


Pallapugno or former pallone elastico is a game originated by precedent firstly played in Piedmont and Liguria with a bandaged fist: now this game is played in all Italian 20 regions. This sport and his champions were described by Cesare Pavese, Beppe Fenoglio, Giovanni Arpino.

Each team has 4 players. Sferisterio is 90 metres long and 18 metres large; rubber ball has diameter of 10,5 centimetres and weighs 190 grams. Scoring is also by fifteens and teens in every game, but a second bounce can result in a "chase" rather than an outright point, similar to real tennis; the team which wins 11 games is final winner of the match.

Celebrated former professional champions include:

Pallapugno leggera

Pallapugno leggera is played in courtfield which has same size of volleyball's courtfield without net (device). Each team has 4 players with 2 reserve players. A match consisted of one set or three sets.


Pantalera or pallapugno alla pantalera is generally played on the urban streets. First action of every match consisted of shot pushing up the ball for rebound on a roof called pantalera in Piedmontese language. Other rules are the same of pallapugno.


Pallonetto or pallonetto ligure al lungo is generally played on the urban streets with tennis balls without covering felt. Playing field is long between 60 and 90 metres and it's large 18 metres with or without lateral wall. Players push the ball using one bandaged hand in these various manners:

  • 1 player versus 1 player
  • 2 players versus 2 players
  • 3 players versus 3 players.

Who wins 5 games is final winner of every match; other rules are the same of pallapugno. Other modalities of this game are:

  • pallonetto al corto
  • pallonetto ai tetti
  • pallonetto of Chiusavecchia
  • baletta
  • ciappetta

See also

External links



  • Morgan, Roger (1989). "European Derivatives of Tennis" in The Royal Game, L. St J. Butler & P. J. Wordie, ed. Stirling: Falkland Palace Real Tennis Club. ISBN 0-9514622-0-2 or ISBN 0-9514622-1-0.
  • McNicoll, Kathryn (2005). Real Tennis, pp. 21-22. Buckinghamshire: Shire Publications ISBN 0-7478-0610-1.
  • Whitman, Malcolm D. (1932). Tennis: Origins and Mysteries, p. 85. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications (2004 reprint). ISBN 0-486-43357-9.

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