Bocce: The Sport of the Italians

L’estate è il momento ideale per passare tempo all’aria aperta facendo attività utili al benessere fisico ed al divertimento in compagnia. Tra i passatempi più amati c’è, sicuramente, il gioco delle bocce da sempre molto apprezzato e popolare in Italia. Le sue origini sono estremamente antiche. In Turchia, infatti, sono state ritrovate alcune sfere in pietra antenate delle attuali bocce, che risalgono a circa il 7000 a.C. In Italia fu Giuseppe Garibaldi a portare questo gioco alla popolarità, durante le fasi dell’unificazione d’Italia. Successivamente molti italiani esportarono le bocce negli Stati Uniti, tanto che a San Francisco e New York divennero i principali centri di gioco, vista l’alta concentrazione di italo americani.

Summer is a time for fun and games and sports are a great way to get a workout while enjoying oneself in the hot sun. Various countries have created and modified numerous sports throughout the years and one sport that captivates many is bocce. Practiced globally with many different styles, this sport has proven to have quite the variety with its players.

Originally practiced many centuries ago by various peoples, bocce evolved over the years in Roman, Greek and Italian cultures as it spread through cities and brought together the residents of the area. The old bocce was played with rocks or coconuts to roll, but the sport has evolved through the years and some aspects have changed. Modern bocce was believed to be popularized by Italian general and politician Giuseppe Garibaldi in the 1800s. From that moment, the sport began to rise and fall in popularity until the first tournament in Athens, Greece. Since then, the sport has been steadily rising in popularity.

A popular sport in Italy, bocce was assisted in its global exposure by Italian immigrants who traveled the world. It is now popular with generations young and old in communities everywhere. The sport has even found its way to America where it was popularized in late-1980s California.
Any player of any age can play the game. The rules are fairly simple and can be played between two players or two teams. The rules are also very flexible and, depending on the tournament and players, the rules may change. Typically, a small ball (called a pallino or boccino) is rolled into a court, which varies in size depending on the location, and two teams roll their own bocce balls at the pallino. The closer ball gets the point. Although players typically roll their balls, they can also toss them underhand in order to knock opponents’ balls farther away from the pallino to steal the point. The player can also aim at the pallino, moving this ball closer to the player’s own balls to steal the point as well. Due to the flexibility of the rules, the number of balls used by the teams and the points needed to win may vary, but the amount of fun that the game brings to the players is consistent and it can be enjoyed by anyone.

Local and national establishments are known to hold tournaments annually. The Annual John Anthony Cipullo Tournament will be held in Cleveland this year at the Alta House on July 21-23. Local, regional and national teams will compete for prizes. For more information regarding the event and how to register, visit

This sport has found its way around the world from ancient civilizations to the immigrants of Italy to many locations globally. Celebrated by tournaments locally and globally, this sport will truly be one of numerous pieces of athletic showmanship that will follow generations for many more years to come.