5 October 2006 -
7 January 2007

At Home in Renaissance Italy

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Many table games were played in the Renaissance home, often after dinner. Men and women, both old and young, enjoyed these forms of sociable play together. They ranged from traditional games - such as backgammon and chess - to new types, which often involved gambling. This was prohibited or regulated by the authorities because of the large sums of money involved.

A popular, though illegal, game played in the home was a type of lottery known as biribissi. Thanks to the invention of printing in the fifteenth century, games such as this were easily disseminated in cheap versions printed on paper. This example has 63 squares corresponding to the same number of tickets below, which are ready to be cut up. The players bet a sum of money on a figure in the hope that it would be drawn.

Play the Biribissi game.