The Joy of Bocce Weekly
In This Issue: Vol. VIII, Issue 39 - November 30, 2009 
•   Notes from the publisher
•   Bocce product of the week
•   Bocce news & readers' feedback
•   Non bocce product of the week
•   Photos of the week
•   Tournament update
Notes from the publisher
The weekly Ezine for bocce aficionados everywhere
Volume 8, Issue #39 - November 30, 2009
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni Copyright 2009
76 Emsley Terrace, Methuen, MA 01844 (vm 800-211-1202 ext 4949)

Hi bocce faithful,

My recent visit to the Palazzo di Bocce to participate in the Pallino d’Oro was a “trip” in more ways than one. My plan was to drive, sharing the driving with a friend who, unfortunately, had to cancel a couple days before our scheduled departure. Undaunted, I set my GPS and took off on the 740 mile jaunt at 4:00 AM on Thursday (11/19/09). Back in the day, I would have had maps, a AAA TripTik®, and other compass friendly materials. Nowadays it’s just me and the GPS.

There wasn’t much traffic and things went along smoothly for many hours. But before I knew it, and much to my surprise, I was in line about to enter Canada. Hmmm…I have a picture ID but no passport. Are they going to let me in and out of the country? I looked in my rearview mirror and could see that there would be no backing up, no U-turn. I decided to carry on, chat with the customs agent, and see what transpired.

“You should have your passport” the pleasant young woman offered.
“Well, I’m headed to Michigan following the GPS and didn’t realize I’d be entering Canada.”

“That’s happening a lot lately,” she said. “Depending on where you are headed in Michigan, the GPS might send you on a route through Canada that saves you a hundred miles or more.”

Then she told me that they might give me a slap on the wrist when I get to the American border, but they’d have to let me in.
Her parting comment was, “If you’re coming back the same way, you ought to see if you can get your passport sent to you before you make the return trip.”

That seemed like sound advice, so I called my wife, explained the situation, and asked her to find my passport and overnight it to my hotel in Auburn Hills. She located the document and DISCOUVERED that it had expired, (the more time I spent in Canada the more indoctrinated I got – I learned that Canadian English generally follows British spelling). Anyway, my spouse commenced to having a grand old time telling all our friends how naïve and foolish her husband was to leave the country sans passport.

Well, like the Telephone Game from our school years where you whisper a sentence down the line from one classmate’s ear to the next, the message got lost in the translation. One of my friends thought that I was being held in Canada and forbidden re-entry into the states. When you’ve done 40 years worth of community service like my wife and I have, you make a lot of friends, and some of them are well connected. In short order, my friend had mobilized a high powered machine to extricate me, the political refugee and incarcerated bocce player being held against my will. While I was playing bocce at the fabulous Palazzo di Bocce, a Massachusetts state senator in Boston and a congressperson in Washington were on a three-way call with my ally, planning clandestine strategy to enact my release.

I’m sure my friend was red-faced when the error was discovered (discouvered – Oh, Canada!). Still, it’s good to know I can count on buddies to bail me out. And yes, I already renewed my passport. On future trips I'm sure my wife, always one to forgive and forget, will gently remind me about the GPS – "Got Passport Stupid?"

Stay close and always be up front,
Mario Pagnoni (The Bocce Guy)

Jefferson Park - Hollywood, Florida...

Bocce news & readers' feedback
{Publisher's comments in brackets...}

Profile of a young bocce star

Joey Bernardi is the USA’s 21 and Under National Punta Raffa Volo Champ, a title he won in June at Livermore, California’s Campo di Bocce. The soft spoken 20-year-old is a junior at Santa Clara University where he majors in civil engineering with an emphasis in transportation. When asked about this unusual field of study he offers, "I'm following in my mom's footsteps."

Joey played the traditional sports as a youngster, then took a liking to rugby and eventually blew out a knee. The injury might have been a blessing in disguise, getting him to concentrate on bocce, a sport that he started playing at about age six. He has fond memories of learning the game from his grandfather. It wasn’t only the bocce that was special, but the quality time spent with nonno.

“I dedicated the 2009 Nationals to my grandfather” he says, obviously moved by the memory. “When I won the title I inscribed ‘For Nonno Romano who saw it all’ on the award. Grandfather Romano had succumbed to cancer just before the nationals began. It would be Bernardi’s first time attending a funeral. To play so well at this level while dealing with this grief is a testament to his ability. And it bodes well for his athletic future. Great athletes need to shut out the distractions and focus on the task at hand. Young Joey can say “Been there – done that!”

Bernardi works hard at his game, readily admitting that there is room for improvement. “I need to mature as a player and make better decisions.” That’s a pretty refreshing approach for a young player. Many guys his age think they already know all the answers. Determined to get better, he says “I’m making fewer tactical errors lately. I owe a lot to my dad.” Dario Natalina is always courtside dishing out generous helpings of encouragement and coaching tips.

Joey Bernardi will be headed to the World Championships, representing the USA in the 21 and Under competition. The date, site, and location are all still to be determined at this time. From the short time I spent chatting with him and watching him play (and playing a game or two with him), I can tell you without hesitation that he will be a first-rate representative of our country. He's a terrific young man with a bright future both in and out of sports...and he's always going to have his family and especially Nonno Romano in his corner. Go get 'em Joey!


California's Steve Kahn asked last week...

"Should there be a penalty if a team forgets to post its score before the start of the next frame?"

{I answered: Don't know - most of the leagues I see don't have a scorecard to sign unless it's after the game is over. I think this would be a league rule where someone (the captain probably) would be charged with making sure the scores are marked or suffer some penalty. My leagues are usually ones where we walk back and forth with the scoreboard in the center of the court (which can be viewed from each end). Someone marks the score on the way to the other end of the court. If there is a mix-up, we just correct it when we discover it.

Can anyone chime in on this question? Please REPLY.}

David Allen Recchione REPLIED...

"This is a reply to the marking of points by Steve Kahn. The way my group plays in Tournaments down here in Sunny So. Cal, all points must be marked on board or the refs scorecard PRIOR to pallino being tossed for the next frame.

If the team captain fails to do so or make sure the ref does it, the points do not count and play continues as normal.

Now for friendly play, we let them slide, but for money tourneys or for medals, we enforce the rules. Hope this is helpful."


Our new friend from Vermont Zander Ponzo has a great idea that I think we will pursue...

"How about we hold a the New England Bocce Championships. We hold them on the courts in the North End of Boston. Already we have the states of Mass, VT, and N.H. represented, and I am sure we could get the remaining two. You and I would put together the first organizational proposal, and then send it out to others for feedback. After communications via web and telephone, we could hold a face to face meeting to refine it further. What do you think?"

{Yes, yes, yes...I LOVE this idea. Let's get this going next summer. Look for details in the ezine.}


Vince D'Aliesio from Bocce Arizona sends this...

"Great tournament in Vegas this weekend. It was small this year (14 teams) but great fun and donations to Children's Leukemia Foundation in Perugia, Italy totaled $1400. Thanks for passing our info to Jerry Valley and his team from Boston. Great group of guys."


Bocce and relaxed competition...

Last week's comments brought this from a reader ...under the heading Terrific Sportsmanship...

{You may have seen the principals, Division II college softball players, on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.}


More On My Pallino d’Oro Trip

Mike Grasser did a great job organizing, running, and even officiating the Pallino d’Oro tourneys. There were two of them over the weekend; the USA tourney and the North American tourney. It's a great deal of work to pull off events like these and, without sponsors, it's tough enough to just break even. Without guys like Mike, these kinds of quality programs will never take place.

I had the same problem pointing on these lightning fast courts as I did in Livermore. I’d make a gentle roll toward the target. It would start out looking good, begin to slow down as it neared the pallino, then go right by 6”, a foot, 2 feet, etc. finally coming to rest 5 feet or more past the target.

Even though the competition was serious, many players tried to help me get the hang of pointing on these courts. Two guys from the Toronto 777 Club spent a lot of time with me. Tony Colalillo and Eddy DeCillia were in my corner from the beginning. Although you weren’t supposed to practice while games were going on, no one perceived me as a threat and they let me practice ad nauseam. I put in a zillion hours. If this were a college sport, I would have set an NCAA record for the most hours practiced with the least improvement. Still, Eddy would cajole me “Try another one – no, that’s too strong. Try another one - too far – try again. Don’t push it with your fingers – just let it go." Eddy was about to set an NCAA record for patience with a bonehead player, but still he persisted.

I played and played and played...Thursday evening, and all day Friday. Early on in the US Pallino d'Oro I got "spanked" by three good players, Brian Polantz, Tony Colalillo, and Dr. Cordano. I knew I had no chance against this caliber of player, so I set, and met, my goals of one point, two points, and three points respectively against these opponents (they tell me that goals should be bold yet reachable, although I suspect that a couple of points I scored against my friend the good doctor were part of the Angel Cordano Charity Fund).

After playing most of the day Friday, and losing to a very solid Canadian player (Sal Lini) in the North American Pallino d'Oro on Saturday morning, I set out to practice some more. I had arrived at the Palazzo by 7:30 AM. After my single elimination defeat in the North American Pallino d'Oro, I practiced and practiced and played anyone who wanted to play. Florida's Carmen Coscia beat me up pretty good about three or four games in a row. Then I played with a couple great guys from the Cleveland area who were almost as unfamiliar with these courts as I was and we had some pretty even competition. Oliver Markon and John Reilly are fine young men and they and their good friend Ezio Carrozzi were much fun to hang out with.

After a while I looked down at my watch and it was 5:00 PM. Wait a minute...I just got here...did I have lunch? Did I call my wife? I was so absorbed in playing and enjoying the coaching that I was getting that the day just slipped by me.

Then a strange thing happened at about 5:30 PM. I finally got it! I started to consistently roll points a foot or two from the target. From then on I was competitive with most of the guys I sparred with. I even beat a really good player who shall remain nameless...I'm reminded of something Cowardly Lion said to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz...

"Wouldn't you be ashamed to be seen in the company of a cowardly lion? I would."

My version is "Wouldn't you be ashamed to say you were beaten by me? I would."

It was a fabulous time. I encourage you to attend an event like this even if you might be overmatched like I was. It's a great experience. You'll come back a better player. And for me it's always great to hear from players from around the country who get the newsletter and enjoy it. It makes me believe that the ezine can have an impact on the growth of the game.


Here's the flier for Elizabeth Wong Fontana's Ruby Raffa Classic:



We should all be card carrying members. Every club should be affiliated. For the sport to gain the attention it needs we need to boast of many thousands of members. Download a USBF Membership Application here: . }



Playaboule's Perfetta Bocce Sets were backordered and the shipment has arrived from Italy and ready to ship. Click the link below to learn more...

Perfetta is back in stock at Playaboule!

Photos of the week
This week's photos were taken by yours truly at Michigan's Palazzo di Bocce. The event was the 2009 Pallino d'Oro - actually two events, the US Pallino d'Oro and the North American Pallino d'Oro held in the same weekend. These were singles competitions with punta raffa volo international rules.

It's too bad we can't yet get big sponsorships for these events as I know how hard it is to get expenses covered. Michael Grasser of DaVinci Bocce did a fabulous job organizing, running, and even officiating some of the games.

I wish we could have had television coverage, especially of the final match between eventual North American Pallino d'Oro winner Jose Botta and Toronto 777 Club member Eddy DeCillia. That final match was as exciting as bocce can get, with exceptional raffa and volo shooting. I understand that the game is about pointing and that is especially true on these lightning fast courts. If you can't point here you just can't compete. Still, the hitting is so exciting and something that a television audience might gravitate to.

The two players were a contrast in styles. Jose Botta is the picture of quiet confidence. He points with perfection, volos with the best of them, and his raffas are classic. For raffa, he tosses the ball with palm down and imparts tremendous backspin. He hits your ball squarely and leaves his ball in its place. The accuracy is uncanny. I didn't see him miss a raffa all weekend. His "miss" is one that clips the target a little off center to the right or left - that's as close as he comes to "whiffing." Anyone who plays singles against Jose Botta has his work cut out for him.

Eddy DeCillia, on the other hand, plays with a joie de vivre that I have rarely seen on the bocce circuit. He has a passion for the game and he emanates a confidence that says he can play with anybody. It's like he's saying "You're good. I am too. Let's get it on!"

He gave Jose Botta all he could handle in the finals. Whenever it looked like Botta held the advantage and was likely to score, Eddy would drive the pallino out of the court, killing the frame. They don't play with the stainless steel pallino that is more difficult to knock out of play. I think that's because at this level they want to have the option of killing the frame by shooting the pallino out of bounds.

Eddy successfully shot the pallino at least six times in the final match. Don't forget, this is the international size pallino, a smaller target than most recreation players are used to.

Dr. Cordano was one of the spectators who summed things up well when he said "I have played and coached all over the world and have never seen such magnificent shooting."

Some day we'll get TV coverage of a great game like this one and use it to raise the consciousness of the sports world. I hope they let me do color commentary!

View this week's photos

Bocce product of the week
A couple new products from Playaboule...

According to Playaboule's Bede Kortegast...

"We have two new products. One is a very inexpensive bocce set for the beach, based on our Glo sets. This set does not have plugs. They are 107mm in diameter but lighter weight so are perfect for the purely recreational player.

Another product is our new design Limited Edition Deluxe Glo Bocce set. This set has external sealed push button switches. So you don't have to unscrew and rescrew the plugs to turn off and on. An upgraded case with internal and external pockets, heavier weight zipper and fabric."

{Click the image top right to view the Deluxe Glo Bocce set and the link below to view the beach bocce set...}

Beach Bocce from Playaboule...

Non bocce product of the week
{Hey, bocce's great, but I'm always on the look-out for all kinds of good products for my readers}

Tournament update
{chronological order}


Don't let the West Coast players hog all the space!

SEND INFO - WE'LL POST - NO CHARGE - SEND ME A PDF (File for me to post).

Please - anyone running a tournament - do me a favor - put a notice near your tourney bracket board informing players that they can go to and "opt in" for my FREE Ezine on bocce. Click the logo to the right to opt in if you do not already receive this ezine every Monday.


Please consider designating someone as "official event photographer" and directing that person to send snapshots for us to reproduce as photos of the week. Our readers love seeing bocce action from around the continent.


December 5, 2009 - California - Stockton. I. A. C. OPEN – 4 PLAYERS. At least two women players. Contact Romano Lotti @ 209-951-8256.


January 23, 2010 - Arizona - Phoenix. Arizona American Italian Club (AAIC) is hosting an 8 team tournament. For information and/or registration forms call Frank McCune at 602-957-8720.


January 30, 2010 - California - IAC Stockton. RAFFA 3 PLAYERS. Contact Mike Crocce @ 209-466-0541.


February 20, 2010 - California - Campo di Bocce of Los Gatos. OPEN - 2 MEN 2 WOMEN. Contact Ben Musolf @ 408-857-0074.


February 27, 2010 - California - IAC Stockton. Maureen Albanese Valentines Tournament. OPEN - 2 MEN 2 WOMEN. Contact Romano Lotti @ 209-951-8256.


March 27, 2010 - California - IAC Stockton. RAFFA - 3 PLAYERS, 2 Men & 1 Woman. Contact Romano Lotti @209-951-8256.


April 3, 2010 - California - Sacramento - East Portal. OPEN 4 PLAYERS. Contact Vern Cooper @ 916-961-2404.


April 10, 2010 - California - Campo di Bocce of Los Gatos - OPEN - 4 PLAYERS. Contact Bill Schlaefer @ 408- 379-9409.


April 17, 2010 - California - IACC South City. OPEN - 3 PLAYERS. Contact Aldo Peruzzi @ 650-583-8904.

Joy of bocce t-shirts, mugs, buttons, magnets, etc.

Merchandise still available at

Check out the first-rate equipment we offer. The finest measuring devices for bocce (made in UK by Prohawk for lawn bowling, petanque, and bocce) - the finest bocce balls in the world (made in Italy by Perfetta) and the number one selling instructional book on bocce in America - Check them out.
 Check out the merchandise