Have you ever walked by a group of people throwing fingers at each other in a circle and screaming out numbers in Italian? They're playing the ancient Roman game "Morra," and it's been a long time since I've seen or heard anyone playing it.

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Growing up as an Italian American in Waterbury, CT, Morra was a big part of the Italian culture within the Brass City in the 70's and 80's, especially in Town Plot.

What is the Italian hand game "Morra" and how do you play it?

It's kind of like rock, paper, scissors, two or more opposing players throw out one of their hands, each of you has to choose to show 0 to 5 fingers, and call out your guess as to what the sum of all fingers shown will be. If one of the players correctly guesses the sum, they are awarded a point. The first player to reach 3 points is the winner. Here's a video of a game in progress -

Here's another video that I found with a very detailed explanation of the game -

What are people yelling while playing the "Morra" hand game?

It's the numbers 0-10, in Italian.

  • 0 = Zero
  • 1 = Uno
  • 2 = Due
  • 3 = Tre
  • 4 = Quattro
  • 5 = Cinque
  • 6 = Sei
  • 7 = Sette
  • 8 = Otto
  • 9 = Nove
  • 10 = Dieci

My dad and his buddies would constantly play Morra back in the 70's and 80's. I remember huge circles of men screaming "SETTAAAAAAAA! DUEEEEEEE! CHINGUAAAAAHHHH!" at each other at the Mount Carmel Feast in Waterbury, or at the Italian Festival they used to hold at Lakewood Park. Explain what those words mean

What are the usual stakes during the "Morra" hand game?

It was so fun to see what these grown men wagered on "Morra." Sometimes they played for a slap to the face per point, or even something as inventive as a chest or arm hair being pulled out slowly. Mostly they played for cash, but it was more thrilling to see screaming men slap each other in the "fach."

It's been a long time since I've heard the loud sounds of a spirited game of Morra, If you see me at an upcoming event, step up, I'm ready to throw some fingers with you.

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