A little history
Bocce is the Italian version of lawn bowling. The earliest known form of the sport was a game played in the Italian Alps, early in the Christian Era, in which stones were tossed at a target stone--not necessarily to hit it, but to land as close as possible to it. This was a major amusement for Roman soldiers, who spread it through the empire. Balls were eventually substituted for the stones and they were usually rolled rather than tossed. Bocce, also known as boccia, derived its name from the Vulgar Latin word for ball, bottia. Italian immigrants brought bocce to the United States. Its original centers of popularity were New York City and San Francisco because of their large Italian-American populations. But, as newer generations grew away from the sport, bocce declined and seemed in danger of extinction in this country. The center of the sport in the U. S. is Martinez, California, which has more than a thousand competitors in league play and many more who simply play for fun. The U. S. Bocce Federation says there are about 1 million players in the United States.