Home Stories Multimedia Blogs Contributors About Contact

The Cagli Media Project
Institute for Education
in International Media
Andrew Ciofalo, Director

Story by Stephanie Meros

Giovanni Santi sits and intently watches a game of bocce, critiquing the players’ every move. A smile spreads across his face as one ball crashes into the opposing team’s ball, knocking it out of its place, pushing it farther away from the target.

Another ball comes rolling down the lane, stopping inches away from the target. To avoid an argument, the score keeper pulls out his measuring stick to see which team’s ball is the closest. The scoreboard now reads 6-2; the team Santi is rooting for is winning.

Santi is an old pro at the bocciodromo. He has been a resident of Cagli for all 60 years of his life and bocce is his passion. He has been coming to play ever since the bocce club was built, more than 20 years ago. Now that he has retired from working in a mill he has plenty of free time to do what he loves. Usually he makes an appearance at the club in the afternoon on the weekends.

Bocce Ball: More than just a game

“If there were no bocciodromo I would travel to another country to find a bocce ball court,” he says.

Surprisingly, most of the men who frequent the bocciodromo never pick up a bocce ball. Posted on the wall is a list of 150 club members, but of those 25 actually play. Most see the bocciodromo as a social club, comparable to an Elks club in America. The members come to get a bite to eat or a drink at the bar and just sit around for hours talking and playing cards. It is a place where they can escape and hang out with the boys.

“The bocciodromo is a social place for men where they can talk about sports and politics…it is 30 euro a year to join but only 20 euro for retirees, so it is a good deal,” says Paride, the bartender at the club.

Back in the late 1980s and early ‘90s the bocciodromo had professional players. One year the team even traveled to Chicago to play in a tournament. As the years have passed “the game has become more about the money, which we don’t have enough of,” says Paride.

The professionals stopped coming to the bocciodromo in Cagli and went to play at other more prosperous clubs. There are still tournaments but people mostly just play for the fun of it.The club has three leagues, one for ages 10 to 25, one for ages 25 to 50 (which has no members), and one for the 50-plus crowd.

Santi says there are no young people because “younger people prefer soccer and tennis.” Bocce is a less active game and so it’s better for the older crowd. Women never play but they may go to watch their fathers or husbands play. Younger unmarried women don’t hang out there because “we are too old,” says Emido Orazi.

Orazi, 61, is one of the members who do not play bocce. He comes to play cards. He can be seen five days a week from 2 to 6 p.m. just hanging out.

“If there were no bocciodromo I would go to the country and search for wild mushrooms and truffles,” he says. On Saturday and Sunday, instead of going to the bocce club, he likes to watch sports on cable TV. That way he has something to talk about when when he goes back to the bocciodromo on Monday.

Video by Reid Johnson
Photos b: Lauren Pappas
Web Design by Katrina Hickman