Bocce, a traditional Italian sport first popularized in ancient Rome, has begun to gain a local following. A league is expected to form soon, under the direction of former Cazenovia resident, Dennis Incitti. A retired director of business operations for the New York State Insurance Fund, Incitti currently resides in Erieville, and has constructed a regulation-size bocce court overlooking Tuscarora Lake.
“The court is named the ‘Biancone-Lakeview Bocce Court,’ after an old family name,” Incitti said. “Bocce is America’s fastest growing sport and can be played by all ages. Like bowling and golf, it is a very social sport. I would really like to start a bocce league so friends and family will be able to enjoy the court.”
Incitti said he is hoping to find a minimum of four teams of two, or eight individuals to start populating the league. If more people show interest, he said they can play on a rotating basis. The league, which currently has a working title of the “Biancone-Lakeview Bocce League,” will meet at least one night a week. Incitti said he is flexible on which night, but has suggested Thursday, as a relaxing precursor to the weekend. Gatherings are planned to act more as social events, rather than heated competition.
Bocce matches are played between two opposing teams, which can include as many as one to four individuals. A small white ball, known as a jack or “pallino,” is first cast down the court into an area at least one foot from the side or end boards. Each team has four larger balls which they roll in turn, trying to place as close to the jack as possible. The team that is closest to the jack after all balls are rolled is awarded one point for each ball in closer proximity than the opposing team’s nearest ball.
Games are typically played to 11 or 13 points. Players can perform an underhanded throw known as a “spaco,” to strategically knock the opposing team’s balls farther away from the jack, altering the scoring at endgame.
Incitti carefully constructed the Biancone-Lakeview Court to official speculations. The 60-foot long, 12-foot wide playing area is enclosed by pressure-treated timbers and filled with a four-inch base layer of compacted pea stone. Drainage pipes installed below grade ensure the court will continue to be playable after inclement weather. Dennis said the tamped pea stone base is also covered with about two inches of stone dust to provide a hard durable walking surface, and topped with a brushed mixture of mason’s sand, stone dust, lime and crushed oyster shell, to provide a level court and facilitate maximum ball speed. In the coming months, they hope to include a small lighting system for the court, allowing evening play.
Proud of his Italian ancestry, Dennis said he constructed the court not only for his enjoyment, but to honor his grandfathers, Nicolo and Antonio. “They both came to this country in the 1930s and helped build the railroads. During the war they worked in metal foundries forging iron and brass for the war effort,” he said. “Their only leisure activity was playing bocce on Sunday afternoons.”
In addition to the bocce court, Incitti has also worked to cultivate an assortment of vegetables, flowers, fruits and berries on his property at 3905 Tainter Road in Erieville, which he lightheartedly refers to as “Tainter Farms.” He said he hopes to continue a longstanding family tradition and plant a mini-vineyard, producing a small amount of red wine, to be consumed by family and friends.
“The dream lives on,” Incitti said.
Incitti is now looking for players to participate in the bocce league. Those interested in joining can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or email@example.com.