Roman Holiday #3 — Cards

As I’ve indicated before, I collect tarot card decks (waaaay slowed down during the last 10-15 years — but cool decks have become increasingly rare over the same span). I wasn’t sure about the riches in Rome, but even New Age joints basically skip tarot nowadays, so I had modest expectations. As usual, among the things I found out was how little I knew. Cards in general and Tarocco in particular are sold in tobacco shops (no, I was not going to buy a Disney version from their damn store). I did know that the company Modiano dominates but did not realize how completely.

After visiting several shops I also concluded that the era of arty-fancy Tarot is more or less over, even in the country where they first took off. I looked at several decks that had aspirations, but they seemed far cheaper and more perfunctory than many decks I already had. Asking the friendliest tobacco store guy (I noticed the cards were almost always sold by their own person) what I could do to get a truly Italian deck — he uncovered another spot of my ignorance and informed me there was such a thing as Sicilian Tarot:

tarot sicily

with some fascinating variations: The Tower remains intact, there’s a card called “The Unfortunate” that is not quite the Beggar, The Sun includes two people fighting viciously under it and the Hanged Man is, yeah, literally hanged from a tree. (Draw your own conclusions about Sicilian consciousness.) A serious treat — the prime gift to my collection.

Next I got a regular double-deck Modiano set of playing cards — very cleanly printed with sharp detail, a little pencil and scoring pad and a lovely metal box. This is the one I would get out if my Mom’s ghost came for a visit to play Bridge.

[Before I go on, I should note that two of the pervasive 2018 calendars on sale everyfreakingwhere where (a) cutie-pie/studly young priests and (b) cutie-pie/studly guys dressed up as gladiators.]

At the Coliseum gift shop itself I snapped up a 54-cared playing deck done with Coliseo-related themes, including battles with men and beasts and armor and musicians and rituals and architecture and various moments of construction and supply. Small, but exquisite pictures as you would want from an excellent illustrated kids’ book. Not expensive. Includes essential bonus cards that explain what the images are — in five languages. Prime gift to my non-Tarot collection.

 

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