Games & Sports: Soccer, Bocce, Card Games

Games & Sports: Soccer, Bocce, Card Games

Soccer. Soccer has become a vital sport in post-WWII Italy. Sundays are filled with sounds of soccer matches and cheering fans over radio and TV. World Cup victories for Italy, the increasing popularity of the sport, and the fact that it has become the fastest growing league sport for children (girls and boys) since the mid- to late- 1980s, means that soccer (Italian and otherwise) is now much more common in America today. Sunday morning matches via satellite were frequently available in the 1980s at restaurants, and Italian sports news could be heard on Italian radio (K.T.Y.M. 1460 KC (AM) from 9:30 to 10:00 with Tony Pirozzi) or read in L'italo americano. Today cable networks and online sources make Italian soccer and soccer news readily available, making direct RAI sports programs accessible to many (See: MEDIA, Radio & TV). For the true aficionado some newstands carry the pink-papered La Gazzetta dello Sport, direct from Italy. (

Of related interest:
World Soccer News:

Italian RAI cameramen (directed by Vergine brothers)
filming a bocce game in Santa Barbara, for a documentary
on Italians abroad, during the mid-1980's

Bocce. Sports and traditional games such as bocce (and Italian card games) were traditionally male activities but now played by women as well (at the Garibaldina women started playing in about 1975). The most traditional of the Italian games remains bocce (=something akin to lawn bowling, or French boules), normally played on clay or dirt courts rather than grass. It is still widely played. Many clubs have bocce teams and hold tournaments (e.g., Italian American Club, Italian Catholic Federation, etc.). Often a bocce game may be seen at annual picnics. A few Italians have even built bocce courts in their backyards.

Bocce Courts:

Downey Bocce Club
Apollo Park
9369 Cecilia Street
Downey, California 90241
Tel: (562) 869-8782
Perry Michienzi,

Garibaldina Society
(Societá Garibaldina di Mutua Beneficenza)
4533 N. Figueroa
Los Angeles, CA 90065
Tel: (818) 249-9363 or (323) 223-5005
Indoor carpeted bocce (Tuesdays and Thursdays).

Villa Scalabrini Retirement Center (afternoons)
10631 Vinedale St.
Sun Valley, CA 91352
Tel: (818) 768-6500

Of related interest:

Bocce links:

World Bocce League:

Bocce Locations in the US:

United States Bocce Federation:

Card Games. Italian card games played with decks of 40 cards (in many regional versions: Triestine, Piemontesi, Piacentine, Napoletane, etc.) also survive, normally (but not exclusively) among older Italian males: tre setti, briscola, scopa (or scopone). Among Northern Italians (Veneti, for instance) the card game coteccio is also played. Informal groups meet in parks, homes, and clubhouses to play cards.

Of related interest:

Dal Negro (Italian card company, Treviso):
International Playing Card Society:

Miscellaneous. A finger counting game, morra, and a drinking game, padrone, sottopadrone, are extremely rare today. A peasant game called the tiro al formaggio (still played in Central Italy where championships have recently taken place in Alatri), which consists of rolling a large round of cheese the farthest, was practiced until a decade or so ago at picnics and other social events, by clubs such as the Garibaldina.