Tocatì, the International Street Games Festival, will take place again this year
Marbles, pins, a jumping scheme drawn on the ground with colored chalks: a blast from the past, when street games were still the only real reason to leave the house; and a very special guest this year, the Italian Historic Villages.
Tocatì, the International Street Games Festival, will take place even in this unpredictable and unforgettable 2020: on the third weekend of September, from 17th to 20th, the 18th edition of this event will be held in Verona bringing joy, colors and flavors, a “one of its kind” event.
This year the event will take place in compliance with all regulations and guidelines in force on the protection of public health; it was decided to use new technology to have a large virtual square, each guest village will organize moments of play and Verona will be connected with all Italy through large screens that will show in real time what’s goin’ on in other cities. Furthermore, this year will no longer be played only in the historic center of Verona, it will also expand to the neighborhoods, in order to have more locations and avoid gatherings.
Thirteen playful communities scattered around Italy will connect online while they throw eggs or go on stilts, intent on rolling cheese on mountain pastures or rowing on boats in a lagoon. What else could be better for guests who are rightly curious and want to discover the most hidden and ancient treasures of our beautiful country?
Starting from the North, the traditional sport of Tsan, in the Aosta Valley: a game taht loks like baseball and is is played in the steep meadows between Montjovet and Aosta, in Val d’Ayas and in Valtournenche.
A typically female Piedmontese game, on the other hand, in the Langhe, where in Farigliano, nearby the UNESCO site “Wine landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato”, is playing with skittles: a traditional game that consists in throwing a large wooden bowl with the aim of knocking down nine “bije” (large skittles) about one meter high. The shape of the playing tools is said to refer to fertility.
In the province of Cremona, in Casalmaggiore where to roll – for real – is a large round bale of straw, pushed by players with an average age of 25 years. It is with this game that the Oltrefossa Association revives an ancient practice that in the 1900s saw the millers of the Cremona area replace the large millstones of the water mills by rolling them along the river banks.
Among the friendly waters of the Venetian Lagoon we follow the rowing competition in Burano, traditional Venetian rowing boats compete at speed between Malamocco and the picturesque island of bright colors.
Two launches at “Pilote”, a game reminiscent of the Valencian “Pelota”, invite us to meet a playful community of over 14-year-old boys and girls intent on throwing and relaunching a leather and hemp fiber ball with their hands. We are in Gemona del Friuli, in the province of Udine.
In Monterosso al Mare, in the context of one of the most famous UNESCO sites of the Cinque Terre National Park, we can admire the mastery of the throws of the Monterossine players, intent on hitting the nuts of the competitors to grab a precious booty to prepare the characteristic pesto.
And still talking about food, but this time about cheese, “cacio”, we move to Pienza, in the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany: the game is linked to the culture of that territory and its traditional food: in this edition of Tocatì, we will discover the game of “Cacio al Fuso”, which comes from the ancient practice of the shepherds of beating on the cheese wheel to test its quality.
In Schieti, going on stilts recalls the ancient need to move in marshy areas; in Arpino, a village nestled at the foot of the central Apennines, it is the need of the Ciociare women to bring water to the village that has turned into a playful practice. They run with a large terracotta amphorae filled with water on the head, challenging each other in competitions.
We are in the South when we meet in Montebello Ionico, in the province of Reggio Calabria, a large group of players of all ages determined to throw wooden pins – “brigghja” – to grab the coins placed at a safe distance, on top of a pin to be knocked down.
In the Islands, where a rolling cheese, Maiorchino, invites us to discover the downhill lanes of Novara di Sicilia, near Messina, whose inhabitants challenge each other to throw the cheese as far as possible, a practice that also refers in this case to the peasants’ custom of testing the cheeses. Last stop in Ollolai, in the province of Nuoro, Sardinia, to test yourself with a traditional Sardinian wrestling technique that was once considered a display of virility: “S’Istrumpa”.
Italy united from North to South: a journey, partly virtual and partly physical, to discover the cultural, culinary and artisan traditions of each region, meeting people and listening to stories, discovering dances, music, foods and ways of life of our grandparents.
A plurality of ritual and playful practices that tell the story of the Italian peninsula, a widespread “Tocatì” to rediscover it with curious eyes despite the period we have been going through for months.
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