Bocce Ball and variations of it are ancient games that have been played for centuries. For most Italian-American immigrants Bocce Ball was a way to pass the time on a lazy Sunday afternoon and to have a little sporting fun with their friends.
The sport it most resembles is bowling and Bocce has been refereed to as Italian lawn bowling. Just like bowling there is a skill and strategy element to it as well as some luck. Also just like bowling most people play for fun but there are people who are very serious about the game, so much so that there are Bocce Ball leagues with official rules and tournaments that take place all over the globe.
Bocce Ball is a game that the Italians play wherever they are; even in prison. A friend once told me that when he was incarcerated an inmate made a mistake and damaged one of the Bocce Balls and since there was only one set he was forced by the "powers that be" to whittle a new one out of a block of wood. It's now also an unwritten rule in this specific prison that no one but no one touches the Bocce Ball set except for the Italians.
Bocce Ball is normally played outdoors and is best played on a flat surface either gravel, grass or dirt.
The Court: There is such a thing as a Bocce Ball court as well. It's officially 76 feet long and 10 feet wide. However Bocce Ball can be played anywhere and a court can be made almost anywhere.
The Equipment: There are two different types of balls used in Bocce Ball. One is small and is called the Pallina. The others are bigger and are called the Boccia. The Boccia standard ball is about 107mm for 4.2 inches in circumference and weights in at 2 Lbs.
The Play of the Game: Two teams are formed. The Pallina (small ball) is thrown from behind a designated foul line (typically 10 feet from the throwing end of the court). Then each team takes turns throwing their larger balls (Boccie) and the team that gets more of their balls closest to the Pallina wins that specific frame. The team to reach a point total of 16 first is the winner. Frames are played until a winner is decided.
Step by Step: Bocce Ball can be played with an even number of people. If there are two they play each other. If there are four they are broken up into two teams of two. Four players on each team is typically the maximum.
First a starting team is designated. This can be done by flipping a coin or pulling straws or by whatever means deemed fair.
A person on the starting team throws the Pallina toward the opposite end of the Bocce Ball court.
Then the same player throws her Boccia and tries to get it as close as she can to the Pallina without touching it. Then the players from the opposing team throw their Boccia and try to get closer to the Pallina than her. If they succeed the first players team tries to out do them. The teams go back and forth until the exhaust all eight balls
The team with the closest ball gets one point for each of its other balls that are closer to the Pallina than the other teams closest ball.
No points are awarded if the two teams closest balls are an equal distance from the Pallina.
Each frame ends after all eight balls have been thrown and the proper points are awarded. The team to get to 16 points first is the winner.