Strolling central streets of Florence, you can find a small square close to the Cathedral, named Pallottole square – Piazza delle Pallottole.
In fourteenth-century Florence the term “pallottole” (bullets) obviously did not have its present day meaning and therefore it had nothing to do with weapons or their various derivates. Quite simply it was the name for the bowls and ball game that was very popular and played all over the city by the Florentines of that era.
Everyone played this game freely and indiscriminately in the streets, piazzas and on the banks of the River Arno at all hours of the day and night, without much care for the confusion and shouting that often ended up in rowdy brawls.
The authorities decided to take steps to curb this situation and after numerous protests from citizens who found it difficult to put up with all the noise, the Lords Otto di Balia, in other words, the officials in charge of maintaining order and cleanliness in the city, affixed bans according to which it was “prohibited to play ball and pallottole games” in the vicinity of churches and prestigious buildings. Following this it was decided to circumscribe a specific area reserved exclusively for this game.
The present-day Piazza delle Pallottole, alongside the apse of the Duomo, represents the only area where the Florentines were allowed to play this game. So, it perhaps represents the very first bowling alley ever recorded!