San Diego: Learning to play an ancient sport — bocce

What do you get when you move a bowling alley outside?


I’ve lived in Philadelphia and New York, cities with large Italian-American populations. And in fact, I lived in Italy — spent a college semester there. But I never got into the game of bocce.  It didn’t exactly look action-packed. And I erroneously thought it was a dying sport.

I couldn’t have been more wrong, when I saw just how central the bocce courts are to San Diego’s Little Italy, And how many young people are getting into the game not just there, but all around the U.S. There are leagues everywhere.

Young player's loyal spectator in San Diego's Little Italy

Since I was staying a block from the courts, I decided to find out what it was all about. A local group graciously allowed me into the fold, and was patient enough to let a total novice and klutz get in on their game.

Bocce is a kind of bowling that got its start during the Roman Empire. It’s played on a dirt-and-gravel court.

In simplest terms — it’s much more complicated than this — the game begins when a small ball, known as a pallino, is rolled onto the court. The object is to roll a larger ball, the bocce, as close to the pallino as possible. Whoever does that scores and racks up points.

Unlike bowling, where I was known as the Gutter Ball Queen, I actually was on target a few times. I was starting to get hooked.

Not so good this time. Ya win some; ya lose some.

This entry was posted in Are you game?, Bocce, How to travel around the world with just a carry-on, North America, San Diego. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to San Diego: Learning to play an ancient sport — bocce

  1. Muriel Campbell says:

    I found your blog and am really enjoying reading it. Interesting history re: bocce….the things I never knew.

    Muriel Campbell

  2. very interesting seen……..

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