Monday, January 30th, 2012

Bocce is one of the oldest games around with origins dating to 5000 B.C. The current form of the game is definitely Italian in origin but the French game of petanque which is played primarily in France and Spain is similar.

Bocce historical

The game has been around for awhile

The general principles of both games are the same but bocce is played on a long rectangular court while penanque is played in almost any open space. Bocce is also much more widely played – Europe, Australia, South and North America. There seem to be bocce ball courts all over the place if one is interested in playing. The rules are quite simple. One team throws a little ball, the jack (palino) which must go past mid court. Then the team that threw the palino rolls one of their balls. After this the opposing team attempts to roll a ball closer to the palino than the opponents’ ball. They keep doing this until they succeed in that endeavor. Then the other team tries to get a ball closer to the palino than the opposing team. This continues with the bowling going back and forth if the closeness changes or until one team has rolled all of it’s balls. Then the other team can roll any remaining balls. The scoring is based on one point for each ball of a team that is closer to the palino than any of the opponent’s balls. By the way team is a relative term.

Here is a nice video that shows the basics of the game …..

There are singles and doubles and in my limited experience 4 people on a team that each have a ball to throw. As I said there are lots of places to play including some that are a little over the top. Of course the dress at the game (partita) is really up to you but you might want to consider some common sense rules.

That makes it a nice social event especially if there are food and beer involved. So give it a try sometime if you haven’t already. Anyone can play.


Like croquette it is part of the game to try to knock one of the opponent’s balls out of the action and this seems to happen a lot. It’s great fun at my level of play which is beyond mediocre and the fun is always enhanced by some food and a beer or two. Anybody can play so give it a try sometime. Of course maybe you can make it to the world championships. Check this video for the skills that you need.

6 Responses to “Bocce”

  1. Peter Says:

    Hi Joe,

    I meet Liz at the Bocce court in Los Gatos when we travel together to Scotts Valley. It is crowded from mid-day into the evening. Popular….. at least in Los Gatos.

  2. Joe Says:


    I think that I played at that same place one time on a corporate outing – I don’t remember which company.


  3. Jamie P. Says:

    Hi Joe,
    My neighbor has an approximation of a bocce court. Great fun on holidays with friends, cotto alla griglia, and lots of grappa! 🙂

  4. Joe Says:

    Jamie, it’s fun to play and I’m bad enough at it that the grappa might actually make me play BETTER ;^)

  5. Carol TaylOr Says:

    We’ve been in n Italy 1 wk, 2 days Modena, now a week in Cortona…no bocce in sight. Has it died in Italy & been resurrected elsewhere? I coach special Olympics bOcce teams & would sure like to report back that we’d actually seen or played a game. All the best, Coach Carol

  6. Joe Says:

    Heck, I don’t know. I’ve never played it here although I did see a building near the stadium here in Bolgona with a sign for bocce.


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