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.
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.
“If there were no bocciodromo
I would travel to another country to find a bocce ball court,” he
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.
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.
by Reid Johnson
b: Lauren Pappas
Design by Katrina Hickman