Sunday, September 2, 2012


This years event is being held on September 15 and 16 at Western Gateway park in Penn Valley. The annual event honors the legacy of Italian immigrants and their descendents: To create, promote and sustain a - Cultural Center in Western Nevada County - an awareness and curiosity about the language, history, religion, politics, economy, family, cuisine, literature, art, architecture, music, cinema, education and etc. All who are fascinated and attracted by the Italian heritage may learn, acquire and appreciate Italy's unique role and contribution over the past three millennia to us and the entire globe.

Western Gateway Park Bocce Ball Courts
YES! The Bocce courts are ready. The six new courts are to the left of the main parking lot on the circle and to the right of Buttermaker's Cottage. Bocce can be played competitively on these courts, or just for fun. The bocce ball courts in the park were built by the Nevada County Italian Festival Committee with help from the community.  32 teams competed in the bocce ball tournament on the courts during the 2011 Nevada County Italian Festival in September. So bring your bocce ball set and have some fun. 

Bocce is the Italian plural of boccia, meaning a ball. A ball sport, closely related to bowls and p├ętanque, bocce descended from similar games played throughout the Middle East and Asia. Dating from as early as 5200 BC, an Egyptian tomb painting appears to show two boys playing a game similar to bocce. Around 600 BC, bocce arrived in Greece. The first accounts of bocce in Italy tell about Roman soldiers playing the game during the Punic Wars in about 264 BC. As the Roman Empire grew, bocce spread along with it.
Bocce was played by the nobility and the peasants both, a classless sport. During the Middle Ages, it was criticized for taking men away from archery practice and other military exercises. Because of this, it was banned in the Holy Roman Empire, France, Spain and England. In 1576, the Republic of Venice declared that players would be punished with fines as well as imprisonment. The Catholic Church condemned bocce as a form of gambling, discouraging playing by laymen and prohibiting clergy from participating.
The game was popular with the nobles of Great Britain. Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Francis Drake were great bocce fans. Legend says that Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins were playing bocce when news came of the impending arrival of the Spanish Armada. Sir Frances Drake reputably refused to set out to defend England until he had finished the game, proclaiming, "First we finish the game; then we’ll deal with the Invincible Armada!"

In the nineteenth century, General Giuseppe Garibaldi, a key figure in the unification of Italy, popularized the sport and developed it in its present form. Bocce is currently played in many European countries and also in areas that have received Italian migrants, including Australia, North America, and South America. The sport has become very popular in the United States where, on a typical day, you can see people of various ethnic backgrounds enjoying themselves with a game or two.

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