The ball used in the game of “palla a 21” (or “palla eh!” (see some photo coverage of the 2016 tournaments), is made by hand, following the process illustrated by Ilo Ferrandi in this video.
To date we know of four “palla makers”: Massimo Signori “the Boss” from Tirli, Eraldo Panti aka Calimero from Ciciano, Fabio Massellucci aka Fabione from Scalvaia (who had to reduce his production) and, Ilo Ferrandi from Torniella.
Each of them has his own variants, and his research on construction techniques and materials. If you know more palla makers, let us know.
For more information on the game of palla a 21/palla eh!…check out this page.
On August 29 and 30 the palla 21/eh! closes its round of 2015 in Vetulonia, a hamlet in the hills above Castiglione della Pescaia, in Southern Tuscany.
After this, there will be a last set to be played in order to close the Torniella tournament, which had to be interrupted on August 9 due to impending darkness (the matches ended up being extremely long, thus reaching the end of the day)
In Vetulonia we have, out of the six tournaments played during the Summer, the most Etruscan (the area is loaded with ruins, tombs, and the village itself has very ancient walls), the most maritime (walking out of the square where the games is played you may contemplate the beautiful coastline).
Last but not least, as far as I recall, Vetulonia is the tournament where I ate the best marinated anchovy sandwich to date…in 2008 (or maybe was it a very good Summer, so everyhting was good?).
For business reasons I don’t know if it will be possible for me to attend both days of the tournament. But, if you haven’t made it yet, or you did and you liked it, you should check out the palla games in Vetulonia. Then we will have the Torniella “recovery” game on September 20 or 27, and then we will revert to “off-tournament” mode until next Spring.
So – see you there (more likely on Sunday, than Saturday, me thinks). If you want to meet there, make sure you drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The palla a 21 tournament in Torniella, on August 9, whas interrupted around 8PM due to “impending obscurity”.
With the evening approaching, the ball becomes invisible. The most ruthless “mandatori” (the players who serve the ball) will start to lower the serving angle, so the others won’t see it coming, and they are bound to score easy points.
But, there is a big but: with all the stamina gone during the day, all those “hydrating fluids” taken during the games, what starts as a nice competitive game might end up being a bit twisted, or simply create the grounds for recrimination, due to the non-optimal conditions of the field. And recrimination is never productive. To make a long story short, the game is re-scheduled.
In the Torniella final, the situation sees Scalvaia and Ciciano, each with a “ventuno” (21, i.e. a set). So, the third and conclusive 21 needs to be played. The date is still to be confirmed, pending the verification of the availability of the players. We will keep you posted.
The good news (if you will call it good) from Torniella: both local teams were out in the qualification stage! So it feels definitely like the wizards from last year have lost their magic wand. They can still find it and do some magic in the last two tournaments for this year…but they will need to shape up and pull out the “eye of the tiger”, which we clearly saw in some of the players form other teams (take Alessio Bartalucci from Piloni “A” during his games in Torniella).
In the meantime, the fifth of the six tournaments for this year, Piloni, is approaching. As we wait, or maybe between two games, why not have a refreshing plunge in the Farma creek (just a few bends down the road, between Piloni-Torniella and Scalvaia)?
That’s how the palla a 21 players do it, especially those from other villages. In principle they could ask to use the showers by the football field…but the creek is a lot cooler (in all ways)! Sara Bartalucci gives us an example of the setting, just under the bridge. The creek as lots of other scenic spots (with the “canaloni” site representing the flagship)
So: see you in the square in Piloni, from 3PM on Saturday August 22, and at the same time on Sunday August 23.
I’ve been following the game of palla a 21 (or palla eh!) since 2007, the year we brought the ball to Chicago, Illinois. In addition, I’ve been looking at it from various angles, and working on its promotion and definition of its role in relation to other things going on.
This year I missed the Tirli tournament due to business bringing me elsewhere, and I did follow the one in Scalvaia, but not with the right level of attention, due to the presence of another person visting us for business.
Finally, I managed to follow with attention most of the Ciciano tournament. With the eye that an “outsider” can have, I still oversee many details, and I lack some background historical facts…but I surely improved my understanding of the game and of the tournaments a lot in the past eight years.
The first two tournaments have been won by the home teams. For this reason some folks were starting to suggest that this year each team will win when they are at their place. But then, what would be the sense of a competition? However, with Scalvaia winning in Ciciano, and Torniella having issues in really making a stand, this forecast proved to be wrong, and the games are open.
With three tournaments to go (Torniella, August 8-9, Piloni, August 22-23, and Vetulonia August 29-30) almost anything could happen. Except Torniella repeating the outstanding performance of the past 2-3 years…but they could still win three out of six tournaments.
Or we might see the great comeback by Scalvaia. They were masters of the game before the new wave from Torniella, and -with or without “macumba” as Fabio Massellucci says- they are doing great things in this edition.
Finally: we also have teams from the other villages. While these teams have occasional issues in proposing the right players, apart from Tirli, they can always do the right thing at the right time, and win.
So: in Italy some say that the only sure thing about soccer is that the ball is round. If we take palla a 21 (o palla eh!), in addition to defining the geometry of the sphere, we might add that, if you don’t stop the ball, then you’ll have to go get it, and make sure that happens fast, or it will roll down the hill.
For the next tournament, see you in Torniella (halfway between Siena and Grosseto), at 3PM on Saturday, August 8. More details when you are here.