Bocce Ball-Sonoma Style

Bocce Ball-Sonoma Style

Here in Sonoma County we’ve picked up the Italian sport of Bocce. Many of our backyard’s and outdoor living areas include courts on which to play this old world game.

image courtesy of Ritz Carlton-Dove Mountain Resort

If you haven’t heard of  it, Bocce is a ball sport belonging to the boules (predominantly French) sport family, closely related to bowls and pétanque, all have a common ancestry from the Roman Empire. Developed into its present form in Italy, it’s a perfect game.

Even though I’ve traveled Italy extensively, I first experienced Bocce Ball at Il Vagabondo in New York City. I always had a great time there. It’s an old world Italian Restaurant, and the only restaurant I know of to have an indoor bocce court. Everyone plays; celebrities next to the regulars and out of towers too. I developed a fondness for it there.

image courtesy of gl334

The key is to get really involved. A few glasses of wine (if you are of age) doesn’t hurt either. The more you throw yourself into the game, the more fun it is. And the beauty is that people of all ages can enjoy it together. While it can be played on a lawn or sand, the best is on a court of oyster shells. And, it’s not difficult to make one yourself!

As you know from my post on our wisteria arbor earlier this year, my husband and I bought a fixer upper. On our acre piece of property we have what I call the “lower 40”. An old clay tennis court, now over run with every invasive plant you can think of! It’s the perfect spot for a Bocce court…in my opinion, of course.

I already have the plan in my head.

image courtesy of Houzz, by by Huettl Landscape Architecture

Based on the photo above, I would like to surround the court with raised veggi beds…the only difference being that our beds would each be surrounded by a thick wall, providing bench seating for all the players and observers. I could even throw cushions on the benches if needed.

Oh yeah, I have it all planned out. Between our wisteria arbor, my specialty of cooking paella outdoors, our ability to dine alfresco 8 months out of the year, and the addition of a bocce court, we’d be all set to Entertain Sonoma Style™. Now, I just have to convince my husband!

image courtesy of Ceja Vineyards

What do you think? Would you enjoy playing Bocce? It’s entertaining Sonoma Style at it’s best.

To get some ideas, check out the video below…and leave me a comment with your thoughts. I always like hearing from you!




  1. ABC Dragoo 9 years ago


    Last Summer I was fixated on doing a bocce ball court. Of course, other projects took precedence, but I am still holding my hopes out for one.

    Fun and creative post! xxABCD

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      You’ll probably beat me there Amy. We are probably a year out or so! So much to do on a fixer upper as you know!!!! Happy Summer to you, and thanks for stopping by. Always good to run into you virtually

  2. Irene – There was a park near my grandma’s house in Boston where the “old Italian men” use to play bocce ball. As a little girl it was sort of mysterious watching them play .. to this day it still intrigues me.

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      You’ll have to come visit when we finally get ours in Toby. We’ll play…you’ll love it, and come back often! That’s my story…

  3. Lyn Higgs 9 years ago

    I think it would be so much fun–I have known about the game and witnessed it for the first time last September in Bellingham Wa–down near the wharf shopping and in a little corner lot were a group of older men–a few younger ones also–were playing the game–fascinating to watch–a really neat little town square–always someone playing their banjo or guitar–of course with a mug of coffee nearby!!!!
    thanks for sharing this bright spot!!!
    Here’s to you!!!

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      Back at you Lyn, Always love to see you pop up and share your lovely views! Thanks as always for stopping by!

  4. Hilton Purvis 9 years ago

    Bob loves playing Bocce….and we have had many games on the naturally occurring Clark, Wy sand.
    There was a cool old Italian bar/restaurant in NYC w/ indoor Bocce courts…never went to it, but I had a friend who was a regular. I love the idea of having outdoor “games” set up for parties…civilized, mellow ones like Bocce, Crouquet, old school horse-shoes…to active ones like volleyball or badmiton…we even used to seasonally have a ping pong table outside in the summer. At our old house in NY, we set up a simple game for 2 that was a huge crowd-pleaser: Stump Rope. 2 tree stumps about 1-2′ high 1’+ diameter set about 15-20′ apart…then a hemp rope about 40′ in length. The 2 competitors stand on their stump and each grab a rope end….count to 3…and then start quickly gathering as much rope as they can from the other until the rope is taut…then it’s a game of more strategy than strength, as each person tries to yank the other off their stump first. If a person yanks too hard, the other person simply has to give a little slack, and the hard-yanker can tip themselves over. it’s like a Tug of War, but with brute strength not being neccessary. Young can even challenge old, so it’s for all ages too.
    My favorite game? More of a parlor one: Charades. LOVE to act out stuff…and laughter is a huge component to this game. Hope your old tennis court has a second life,Irene. Gotta have a pleasure palace for all those GRANDCHILDREN!!

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      I remember those games at your home Hilton…played a many of them with you guys! Yes, bocce is a good game to play with the grandkids!
      XOXOXO to you!

  5. quintessence 9 years ago

    What fun!! My son, who has spent time in France is obsessed with pétanque and owns a handsome set. He wanted us to build a “court” – husband not on board at all – we are destined to forever be a croquet family!!

    • Author
      Irene Turner 9 years ago

      My friend Jonathan Robinson in the Loire Valley has an old pétanque indoor court built in the 18th century in his village. He is going to be restoring it this year! Can’t wait to see it done

  6. Dolores 9 years ago

    nice article.


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