Boules in Italian means bocce or boccia. Broadly outlined, there are two types of Italian games of bocce: the game with metallic, bronze boules and the game with composite boules.

The game with the bronze boules is called Volo and is exactly the same as the French game sport-boules or boule lyonnais and in both games the same rules are applied. For many years the Italian players have been as strong as the French! The game with composite boules is called Rafa and is practised all over the world, probably because of the emigration of a lot of Italians. In Australia and especially in the USA there are many thousands of participants of this type of bocce (although there are more than 10.000 participants of the game with the metallic boules in Australia).

The court (from: The joy of bocce by Mario Pagnone)

Although the rules of Rafa may be different from country to country, or even from federation to federation, broadly speaking the rules are as following. The bocce court must be flat and has a length of 26.5 m and a width of 4.5 m and is made of very fine packed earth, clay, gravel or dirt, grass is allowed. Indoor courts are made from synthetic materials. The court is divided by transverse lines in several areas, but in a different way as in the game sport-boules. On each side there is a pointing line, a hitting or shooting line and a half court marker. The jack (pallino) has to be thrown out into the rectangle between the half marker court and the pointing line on the opposite side.

The bocce balls have a weight between 920 and 1100 grams and a diameter between 10.7 and 11.4 cm. Although composite balls are the most common, the balls may also be made of wood or metal. The balls may be any colour but for a team they must be matching and of a different colour to those of the opponents. The size of the pallino must be between 40 and 60 mm and may have any colour (but always in contrast to the colours of the balls in the game. The teams may consist of one, two, three or four players. The balls may be thrown in three ways: punto, rafa and volo. A punto shot is the way of pointing a ball by rolling the ball as close as possible to the pallino.

The pointer (from: The joy of bocce by Mario Pagnone)

A rafa shot is the way of knocking an opponent's ball away that is very close to the pallino by rolling very fast. The player is allowed to make a run of two to four steps before he delivers his ball.

A volo shot is the way of hitting an opponent's ball that is very close to the pallino by throwing through the air and hitting directly the opponent's boule (or the pallino), with the restriction that the ball may first strike the ground within 40 cm of the target.

In contradiction to the most French games of boules, bocce balls are delivered overhand.


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