You can think of modern bowling as a distant cousin of bocce. In England, they have “bowls”, a lawn version of the game using a flattened ball which is rolled like a wheel (bocce balls are always spherical). The Latin word bottia (ball) is the root of the Italian word boccio or Bocce.

During a game, a ball is either rolled or tossed underhanded down a long lane with the aim of coming to rest near a smaller target ball called a pallino or boccino . Some form of bocce is played in more countries than any other ball game, with the exception of soccer. Still, Romans are the ones who spread the popularity of the game throughout the Roman Empire.

No one really knows how old Bocce is. There were stone balls found in Turkey that date to 9000 BC. Some say Bocce came from Egypt about 5200 B.C., but others say that Greece was its birthplace around 600 BC. When you really think about the simplest game a child can play–tossing a stone–you might think of Bocce as the very first game man ever played. Even the child’s game of Marbles is based on Bocce.

Bocce is traditionally played on natural soil and asphalt courts 27.5 metres (90 ft) in length and 2.5 to 4 metres (8.2 to 13.1 ft) wide. Traditionally, the top surface of a gravel court has a very smooth and level layer of compacted limestone dust or crushed oyster shells. Backyard courts can be smaller… typically 60′ x 12′, but smaller court sizes of 30′ x 6′ are fine if spaces is limited.

Bocce balls can be made of metal or various kinds of plastic. A game can consist of two players, or two teams of two, three, or four. A match is started by a randomly chosen side being given the opportunity to throw a smaller ball, the jack ( or boccino or pallino), from one end of the court into a zone 5 metres in length, ending 2.5 metres from the far end of the court. If the first team misses twice, the other team is awarded the opportunity to place the jack anywhere they choose within the prescribed zone.

The side that first attempted to place the jack is given the opportunity to bowl first. Once the first bowl has taken place, the other side has the opportunity to bowl. From then on, the side which does not have the ball closest to the jack has a chance to bowl, up until one side or the other has used their four balls. At that point, the other side bowls its remaining balls. The team with the closest ball to the jack is the only team that can score points in any frame. The scoring team receives one point for each of their balls that is closer to the jack than the closest ball of the other team. The length of a game varies by region but is typically from 7 to 13 points.

Players are permitted to throw the ball in the air using an underarm “lobbing” action. This is generally used to knock either the jack or another ball away to attain a more favorable position. Tactics can get quite complex when players have sufficient control over the ball to throw or roll it accurately. You’d be amazed at some who can lob a ball high in the air and drop it knocking the pallino right out of play–while their ball lands without rolling.

If you are interested in playing Bocce or want to find out more, Please contact the Bocce President Dr. Adriano Pellizzon – 076 222 5990

Extracts of the above information was taken from Grand Voyage Italy –


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