Play the Italian Way – Bocce! Part II – Bocce Now

Bocce ball is said to be the world’s oldest sport, possibly going back as far as 23 centuries

Bocce ball is said to be the world’s oldest sport, possibly going back as far as 23 centuries

This is the second of a two part article featuring the timeless game of bocce ball.  Part one of the article was published in the May 28, 2015 edition of L’Italo- Americano.  In it we explored the history of this simple and entertaining activity. 
Subsequently, a reader submitted the following information by way of clarification as to the proper way to play bocce:  The pallina, small ball, is thrown first and then each player throws his regular size ball to get as close to the pallina as he can.
 
Bocce ball is said to be the world’s oldest sport, possibly going back as far as 23 centuries when several listless Romans began throwing stones at a nearby target.  But enough with the history!  What is the future of Bocce in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area?  Believe it or not, as you are reading this today, this ancient game is being played at restaurants, parks and wineries. Let’s explore.
 
If you want to enjoy a game of bocce in a new, yet historic setting, the place to play will be in the renovated Joe DiMaggio Playground in North Beach.  Here you will be able to see a century’s old game being played in a new playground.  If you happen to glance upwards, you will see Coit Tower perched on top of Telegraph Hill.  In other words, if you like to double your pleasure, this will be the bocce spot for you.  The new Joe DiMaggio Playground is expected to open in early 2016 with bocce courts adjacent to a small grove of olive trees which will provide shade for the nearby picnic tables.  Now that’s bocce the Italian way.
In addition to the above mentioned Joe DiMaggio Playground courts opening in 2016, check out the following locations.
 
Aquatic Park
What can you say about this iconic location but Wow!  The photo says it all.  The Aquatic Park bocce courts offer the quintessential experience.  If you can keep your eyes off the amazing view of San Francisco Bay right behind you, focus on these well-used lanes and imagine the elderly Italian men that have played here for decades.  Imagine the comradery and stories that were, and still are, exchanged.  On a quiet day, my impression is that you actually can feel their presence, one of childlike exuberance tempered by an ageless passion for their culture and the game of bocce. Surrounded by everything San Francisco has to offer, the Aquatic Park bocce lanes are located at the west end of Beach Street between Polk and Van Ness Avenue.   
 
Justin Herman Park
This location is another stunner with its own particular charm; it’s new and modern.  Dare I say it might even have a touch of Art-Deco style.  The Justin Herman Park bocce courts are the newest in San Francisco and are a gift to the city by private businesses and built with donated union labor, opened several years ago on the south lawn of Justin Herman Plaza Park along the waterfront. There is even a Ferry Bocce League with a website at http://www.ferrybocce.com/home.
 
Rossi Playground 
This playground is an established neighborhood park in the Inner Richmond, a well-kept area which has hosted Sunday afternoon bocce ball tournaments in the past.  Rossi Playground is located at Arguello Blvd. and Anza Street.  
 
Crocker-Amazon Playground 
This is a large park that is frequently enjoyed by neighborhood families.  The bocce area is big enough for both beginning and advanced bocce games. Crocker-Amazon playground is located at Geneva Avenue and Moscow Street. 
There are also bocce sites all around the San Francisco Bay Area, and sometimes they come with a generous helping of great food and drink. Explore bocce courts in your own town, or take a day trip and scout out courts in destination towns like Sausalito or California’s local wine country.  
 
Bocce in Concord? Absolutely!  Check out the Concord Bocce Federation website at http://www.concordbocce.org.  All the information you need to enjoy the game in the East Bay can be found there.  Courts are located at Port Chicago Highway at Baldwin Park and at Turtle Creek Road at Ayers Road.
 
Campo Di Bocce has two locations, one in Livermore and one in Los Gatos.  This is an Italian restaurant with bocce courts and is a favorite with families, groups, and even business events.  You will find a Campo Di Bocce at 175 East Vineyard Avenue in Livermore and at 565 University Avenue in Los Gatos.   Their website is at http://www.campodibocce.com/
Bar Bocce  is located on the breathtaking Sausalito waterfront with sweeping views of San Francisco and the bay. The restaurant offers a varied menu and is located at 1250 Bridgeway, Sausalito. Their website is at http://www.barbocce.com/
 
Did someone say Vino!  Yes, indeed, there are even bocce wineries in California. The estimate is approximately 30 wineries offer bocce courts in Sonoma and Napa Counties alone. You can find a list at http://www.winecountrygetaways.com/tasting-room-guide/bocce-wineries/.
 
Although you could satisfy your desire to play this ancient game anywhere in the Bay Area, let’s admit that possibly the most authentic way to play is right here in San Francisco.  Although bars, wineries, and suburban bocce venues are certainly fun, which location offers cool bay breezes with sunshine peeking through a touch of fog overhead?  Add a sandwich and bottle of wine from Molinari’s North Beach deli and you will be all set to play the Italian way. 

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