Romani Playing Bocce  Romani playing bocce in Villa Borghese by Ben just Ben


Every Sunday evening during the warm weather months, of which there are many, the old men near where I live play bocce. This game is played all over Italy, but here it is a local ritual that takes place only on Sunday evenings. The familiar clicking sound of the balls and the voices from afar have become a weekly ritual all its own for me. These sounds reach me at a different moment every Sunday, sometimes watering the garden, sometimes reading, sometimes preparing dinner. But no matter what I’m doing it marks a passage of time, that another week is coming to an end and a new one is about to begin. As I type this now listening to the clicking of the computer keyboard, the familiar sounds of the bocce balls remind me that almost all of the Sundays this summer have flown by. One by one, with the clicking of the bocce balls they have passed.


It is a strange and new experience for me to regularly reflect on the passing of such a length of time. The 7am church bells often wake me with a startled reminder that a new day has already begun outside my closed shutters. Yesterday with all its hopes, plans and dreams has turned into another day. I open the windows, breath in the fresh air, and take in the sun and beauty of another day. By noon, the bells from the churches of Ravello and Scala fill the valley with a melodic reminder that it is already midday. The 7pm bells are a not so subtle reminder that it will soon be time to start thinking about dinner.


Yet, when the the clicking of the bocce balls comes on Sunday evenings, I am often taken aback. Could it be that another week has gone? Didn’t I just hear that sound? Wasn’t it yesterday? No, it was a week ago already. How can everything that happens in one week suddenly be made to feel as if it had vanished with a few clicks of these little balls?

 bocce balls 

Then I hear the sound again, accompanied by celebratory sounds from the distant voices. Something good has happened! I am back in the here and now knowing that this moment will soon lead to another and another. The thoughts, feelings and experiences of now will soon be bumped aside by new ones just like the bocce balls—one strike and they will have fallen away to the past.

  • Peter

    Gotta love that sound! We have a court (two actually) nearby the italyMONDO! USA office and it's one of my favorite sounds of summer… on I know will start to be heard as soon as the lilacs start to feel the late spring evening air here in Upstate New York!

    August 30, 2009
  • Anne in Oxfordshire

    I love this post Laura.. Such a great ritual for the old men, but I know what you mean, as you only here it on Sundays you think, where as my week gone!!

    August 30, 2009
  • Lola

    Brava Laura, beautifully written personal entry. We want more of these.

    Ciao and …buona domenica.
    ~Lola xx

    August 31, 2009
  • Amber

    Fabulous writing. Thank you for sharing such a great observation.

    August 31, 2009
  • Laura

    Ciao Peter! That's so great that you can hear the sounds of bocce so close to the office. Mmmm… lilacs are one of my favorite scents!

    Thanks Anne! I love the sound, but can't help thinking of the time that has passed. It actually brings a nice moment of reflection that I have come to enjoy immensely. I would like to learn how to play the game someday!

    Ciao Lola! Thanks so much for the feedback. This is the first time I've posted something quite like this, and I was curious to see the response I would get. Thanks for the encouragement and kind words! It helps so very much. More posts coming… 🙂

    Ciao Amber! I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed this post! It is something I have been noticing all summer, and last Sunday I just had to write something down about it. Some moments are too beautiful that I have to try to hang on to them in words. 🙂

    August 31, 2009
  • Cherrye Moore

    I know I'm late commenting on this, but BEAUTIFUL post and fabulous writing. I felt like I was there with you, marking the passing of time. Complimenti!

    Cherrye (

    January 29, 2010

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