Bocce Ball: Two Thousand Years Of Backyard Entertainment Finds A New Home In San Diego

Landscape Design and Construction Bocce Ball: Two Thousand Years Of Backyard Entertainment Finds A New Home In San Diego

San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood is one of the prime destinations for visitors of the city, home to dozens of top-tier restaurants, boutiques, and nightlife options. While the district has gentrified and evolved over the years, many of the older traditions of the neighborhood’s original inhabitants have been kept alive. 

Outside of the dining options, one particularly notable example of this is the entertainment options. If you’ve ever walked the streets during the day, you’ve likely seen some of the older residents playing an outdoor ball game called bocce, or bocce ball. The game, imported from Italy, has a surprisingly long and storied history from before it arrived in its new home here in southern California.

Bocce’s origin lies first with the ancient Greeks, then with the Romans, who chiseled balls out of stones and threw them towards a distant target to see whose balls could get closest. Much like the romantic languages themselves, the game then underwent a number of regional evolutions that would go on to become different-yet-similar games. In England, the game would evolve into ‘bowls’, while in France it would change into a game called ‘boules’ (translated to ‘balls’) and pétanque.

The Italian variant, Bocce, developed over the past 500 years and has spread to every part of the world where Italians have migrated in significant numbers. This includes the famous Little Italy neighborhood in San Diego, where the game has found widespread adoption in the city thanks to its accessibility for people of all ages and the fantastic weather the area enjoys year-round.

The game has gotten so popular that adding a bocce ball court has become one of the most sought-after outdoor entertainment fixtures for homeowners redesigning their outdoor spaces. Bocce is traditionally played on a rectangular court of natural clay soil, decomposed granite or oyster shells, with borders being walled off with either wood or stone. 

The court can measure up to 90 feet long and 13 feet wide for those palatial countryside estates, but for the more densely populated areas like San Diego, a 30’ by 8’ court is more than enough to enjoy the game! The trick to any successful bocce court installation is incorporating it with the rest of your landscape, ensuring that it doesn’t waste space or stick out aesthetically from the rest of the design.

Thanks to the similarity in climate between coastal southern California and Italy, we’ve found bocce courts integrate seamlessly into landscapes that utilize the local flora. If you’re looking for an aesthetic garden but don’t want to miss out on the bocce ball fun, Torrey Pines Landscape Company can help you create an ideal lush landscape that lets you incorporate any kind of outdoor entertainment. Whether adding an outdoor kitchen, a poolside patio expansion, or a new ball game court, Torrey Pines will help you create your dream landscape. Call today!