Ciao Balla

Bocce isn’t just for Little Italy residents anymore.

By Jess Blumberg Mayhugh - July 2014

Bocce Ball Finds New Popularity

Bocce isn’t just for Little Italy residents anymore.

By Jess Blumberg Mayhugh - July 2014

-Photo By Brian Schneider

When Giovanni Marcantoni was growing up in Baltimore, his grandparents, uncles, and dad would play bocce ball in Little Italy. 

“On Sunday afternoons, we’d have a big family meal and play bocce,” Marcantoni recalls. “Even when I was young, no one let me win. My family took a lot of pride in it.” 

In 2010, Marcantoni channeled that tradition by founding a sport and social league with bocce ball at its center. Baltimore Bocce, whose summer season starts mid-July, has also expanded into several other cities. 

“We started in Federal Hill Park with just 20 of my friends,” he says. “Now we have almost 500 people a year playing bocce in Baltimore and more than 1,000 nationwide.” 

He attributes the sport’s popularity to the fact that anyone can play (the league’s age range is 22 to 65) and the game’s simplicity. A team of at least five players tosses one small ball (pallino) that becomes a target. Then, each team tries to get four larger balls (bocce) as close to the target as possible. 

“It was surprising how fast it took off,” says Elliot Jeffords, who now helps run the Baltimore chapter. “People were looking for something more social and less competitive.”


You May Also Like

Arts & Culture

Richard Chizmar Co-Authored Book with Stephen King

The Bel Air writer discusses 30 years of writing horror and suspense stories.

Arts District

Baker Artist Awards Recognizes Six Area Artists

Pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn wins largest, $40,000 prize

MaxSpace

Review: Baywatch

It's not safe to go into these waters.

Food & Drink

You Are Here

Scenes from the Bel-Loc Diner and UnPub 7 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The Chatter

Cloud Computing Races to Glory at 142nd Preakness Stakes

Horse owned by Baltimore native eliminates possibility of a Triple Crown victory.

-Photo By Brian Schneider

Connect With Us

Most Read


Baby on Board: Best Warm Weather Activities for Kids
Here's a hint: stock up on bubbles.

Guiding Light
The long-awaited Harriet Tubman visitor center opens on the Eastern Shore.

My Top Ten with Alex Obriecht
The owner of Race Pace Bicycles shares his favorite things.

The Launch: May 2017
The nine musts from this month's calendar of events.

Top Nurses 2017
Our third annual Excellence in Nursing awards honor some of Baltimore's best RNs.