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Bocce Time

Food, wine and Bocce Ball come together to make a terrific summer game


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Mitchtobias.com

Bocce may just be the most delicious meeting of sport and wine appreciation ever invented. This classic Italian game, in which players from opposing teams roll heavy balls at a smaller pallino marker, can be highly competitive—or simply great fun. Here’s how to bocce, Diablo-style.

Where to play: Livermore’s Campo di Bocce and Oakland’s Pizzaiolo restaurants have bocce courts, plus killer food and wine lists to complement the fun. Many Napa and Sonoma resorts, such as Calistoga Ranch (pictured), have courts. Numerous local parks—Concord’s Newhall Community Park, Danville’s Sycamore Valley Park, Martinez Regional Shoreline, Moraga Commons Park, and Pleasant Hill’s Rodgers-Smith Park—are bocce equipped.

The Goal: “Get the big ball close to the little ball” is the advice for newbies from Ben Musolf, C.O.O. of Campo di Bocce. Musolf is the East Bay’s best bocce authority, having coached the U.S. Bocce Team in the World Championships twice. He has hosted three national championships and a bevy of tournaments.

Bocce Style: Bocce allows you to be as fashionably expressive as you want. “Campo di Bocce only requires that you wear flat-soled shoes, but I’ve seen everything from barefoot on the beach to people playing in wedding gowns,” says Musolf.

Home Games: If you want to play in the comfort of your own backyard, a regulation bocce court with sand or crushed shell surface can set you back anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000. “Unlike a sport court or a tennis court, bocce ball courts are functional, take up less space, and are aesthetically pleasing in a landscape,” says Matthew Cartwright of CK Landscape Development in Danville.

Wanna get serious? Competitive leagues are organized by the Concord Bocce Federation, (925) 685-1370; Martinez Bocce Federation, (925) 295-2003; the Town of Moraga, (925) 376-2520; and Pleasant Hill Recreation, (925) 682-0896.

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