|Palla 21 being played in Torniella (Casa Reasco in the background)|
Palla 21 is played wherever enough space is available: in the square of the village or for that matter on the main street if the village is so small it has no piazza! The ball is hand made, containing a lead pellet wrapped in rubber and wool with a leather cover. There is no referee. The game is played by facing teams who strike (not catch) the ball with either a bare or gloved hand. Courts are marked out with painted lines on town streets, but there is no net, and players can move between sides. Adjacent buildings, objects, and sometimes spectators, are considered "in play."
Scoring is almost identical to that of tennis (15-30-40-game). In the variant called pallaventuno (or palla 21) each game counts as 7, and a set is won with three games (7 for the first, 14 for the second, and 21 for the third, hence the name of the game). In the other variant, games are simply counted in progression (game 1, game 2). Pallacorda (or palla della corda) is an extinct form of the game where a cord (precursor of the tennis net) was strung across the street. Pisa, Prato, Rome, Sienna and various Tuscan towns still have streets named via Pallacorda or via Della Corda.
During 2014, this is the schedule - heats on the Saturday and finals on the Sunday:
- Scalvaia, 26-27 July
- Ciciano, 2-3 August
- Torniella, 9-10 August
- Piloni, 16-17 August
- Vetulonia, 23-24 August
- Tirli, 30-31 August
Anna Maria Baldini
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