Roll Into Summer with Bocce Ball

Finalmente!  At last, sunny summer days are here!  It is time to take a walk, fare una passeggiata,  go for a bike ride,  fare un giro in bicicletta, and plant the garden, piantare il giardino.   In addition to these long awaited summer activities, the game of bocce ball brings out the Italian in all of us.

Bocce ball has been around since ancient times and goes back as far as 5200 BC, when the  Egyptians  threw polished rocks to pass the time.  The Greeks then picked up the sport and passed it to the Roman soldiers.  The sport became so popular that it was banned, as the powers that were wished for more serious endeavors, such as archery and war training. The modern version of the game was brought to the forefront by Giuseppe Garibaldi, who used it as a means to unite Italy in the 19th century.

For many years it was the game of the Italian old-timers. But that was then.  Bocce is now taking its place in popular culture.  The game popped up in California in the 1980’s and has grown in popularity ever since.   According to the US Bocce Federation , the game has attracted a dedicated following from all over the world. It has leagues and tournaments in over 30 countries with 25 million Bocce enthusiasts in the US alone.

The game is simple but requires finesse and some strategizing as players seek to knock out their opponents.  Bocce Ball can be played by two, four, or eight players on two teams (one, two, or four players per team).  Each team throws four balls per frame.  It is the goal to get as close to the small white ball, pallino, as possible.  A point is scored for each ball that is closer to the pallino than those of the opposing team.  Play continues until one team makes it to the specified total points for the win, usually 12.
Bocce ball has long been a favorite attraction at Scornavacca’s and Tumea and Sons in Des Moines.  Both locations have an outdoor bocce ball court and established league play.  Scornavacca’s will host bocce play for The Iowa Games  on July 13.  Newcomers to the Des Moines bocce ball scene are Peace Tree Brewing and Smash Park.

The Italian American Heritage Festival will host several  bocce tournaments including  adult doubles, on Friday, July 26 and adult four player, on Sat, July 27.  Sign-ups begin at 5 pm each day in the bocce ball area.  Kids can get into the game on Sat, July 27 with sign ups starting at 10 am.

This is a sport that anyone can play.  So get out there and enjoy! – by Jody Paglia