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Game play by the Romans going strong at the Bocciodromo

Lou Giancarlo Sarnia has its own bocce arena on London Road, and it has seen thousands of games played since opening in the winter of 1994.
Mixed Wednesday night bocce held at the Bocciodromo at the Dante Club.
Wednesdays are mixed league night at the Bocciodromo at the Dante Club on London Road. From left are, Chris Rocco, Mary Jurilj, Josephine Rocco and Felicia Mancusi. Glenn Ogilvie

Lou Giancarlo

Sarnia has its own bocce arena on London Road, and it has seen thousands of games played since opening in the winter of 1994.

The Romans played a version of bocce, and the object today remains largely the same: to throw your team’s bocce balls closer to the “pallina” (little ball) than your opponents.

A big draw is that anyone can play, and it’s common to see children playing grandparents in the outdoor version of the game.

Even before Sarnia’s Bocciodromo was opened players from the Dante Club had joined the Southwest Ontario Bocce Association. There was only one problem: while other communities boasted indoor facilities to accommodate our Canadian winters, Sarnia was left out in the cold, so to speak.

That’s when a group led by Luigi Torti, Frank D’Agostini and Vince Petrucci decided to act. They struck the Dante Club Bocciofila Committee, charged with raising capital, investigating design blueprints and recruiting volunteers.

When the committee presented its findings the Dante Club executive happily endorsed the project, but also made it clear that all construction and on-going costs were to be borne by the new organization.

“We did not receive a penny from any level of government –municipal, provincial or federal – for the construction of the Bocciodromo when it began in early 1994,” Luigi Torti said with pride.

Torti, D’Agostini and Petrucci recruited an army of volunteers to help. Without the volunteers, who pitched in on all aspects of construction, the facility wouldn’t have been built.

Significant improvements have been made since then, and the club today has four artificial surface bocce courts and five traditional packed-sand courts. In addition to a mixed and a men’s league, people can also take out a social membership.

On any given day, league and social members can be found playing Scopa, Italy’s national card game, along with gin and other games. The 60-member club is open and welcoming to the community, with courts available for rent to groups and families.

The club has received awards from federal, provincial, and local government, which recognize both its promotion of cultural heritage and significant contribution to the community.

“What we have achieved continues to be possible only because of the dedication of our many volunteers today,” D’Agostini said.

The goal of the club is to continue providing a place for people to relax, enjoy themselves and participate in a sport that has its roots in antiquity.

Lou Giancarlo is a retired high school teacher and Bocciodromo volunteer.

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