The Italian or Latin suits are the oldest known and were once used throughout all
Europe. You will still find them used on regular playing cards in many countries
but the Italian suited Tarot packs are now only used in Italy, Sicily, and Switzerland.
There are just four regional patterns still produced for playing games with, though
one of these, the Swiss 1JJ, is better known to English speakers for fortune telling.
(Brits who are old enough will remember it from Tales of the Unexpected)
The Tarocco Bolognese (Tarocchino)
This pack has been unique to Bologna and has not really been used outside of that
region - until recently. I’m sure that I’m not alone in wishing these cards to become
very familiar. There are numerous quirks to the design, covered in more detail in
this site’s book and while they can take a little while getting used to, they quickly
win you over.
So far as I know, they are manufactured by both Modiano and Dal Negro (who include
a little pamphlet of rules). There is probably not a great deal of difference in
quality but I’ve always fancied that Modiano’s cards are a little more durable (and
a little cheaper). And I like their oversized green boxes - but that’s my own quirk.
Prices will range from £6 - £8 ($10 in US)
This is certainly one of the first packs you should buy. This regional pack consists
of the full 78 cards, numbered & double ended cards for ease of play, all with the
traditional designs that are so distincly tarot.
They are still made by Modiano, Dal Negro, and Massenghini. Usually there are two
colour backs to choose from. Personally, I have only used the Modiano cards in their
big green box - very durrable! Prices range from £8 - £9 ($16.99)
According to Michael Dummett, many Sicilians did not realize that these cards were
still made and had resorted to adapting their game to the Piedmontese pack. Over
a twenty-five years later, we can hope that awareness has changed for the better,
though they are only made by Modiano now.
Along with some differences in trump designs, Sicilian cards are tiny, really. Just
52x82mm. Granted, they are used for just the one game - but check the rules, it’s
a good game and so the cards are worth it! They cost only about £6 or $13.50 US.
This was the first pack that I played games with, I used an old second hand edition
from the 70s, uncoated, it didn’t fare too well but modern editions are very durable.
The pack is sold in the US (and UK) by US Games who have replaced the French titles
with English language ones and in doing so have renamed the coins as pentacles. However,
as the cards are still used in Switzerland to play Troccas and Troggu, the original
language packs are still sold. Once again, hats off to tarobearslair for making this
edition available to US customers!