Playing with tops is an ancient and international pastime, played by ancient Romans, and was very popular in England in the 14th Century. The game is known in Africa, and is very refined in the Oriental cultures. The North American Indians called the tops dancers, and they used a whipping action to get the tops dancing.
This whipping action is popular in Italy as well. Players need a top, simply a cone-shaped piece of wood with a nail sticking from the narrow end, and a whip, which can be string of rawhide attached to a stick.
With the top lying on the ground, players develop skill in whipping them and making them spin. With their skill, players may have contests to see whose top spins the longest, or they may race tops to and from school during the day.