Bocce: Italy’s own ball game

Has bocce ball ever been an Olympic sport? Maybe it should be! It started with the ancient Greeks, and came to southern Italy with them, where it has stuck fast. The French adopted it as boules–and could bocce be the distant ancestor of the bowling alley across town?

The Italian tradition of bocce┬áis kept alive in St. Louis. Milo’s Bocce Garden┬áis a tavern in The Hill, the Little Italy of St. Louis, which bills itself as the “sports center of The Hill” in neon lights. Milo’s installed bocce courts in the 1980s and maintains an active tournament schedule. But bocce was alive and well on the Hill long before that, as the following video reveals.

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Little Italy in the Midwest: The Hill, St. Louis, MO

A statue honoring the Italian immigrants who settled in St. Louis.

Four million Italians immigrated to America between 1880 and 1920, creating little pockets of Italian culture, neighborhoods all over the USA known as “Little Italy”. I visited one such neighborhood in January, and here are some photos from “The Hill” in St. Louis.

The Italian colors are popular, from fire hydrants to eye-catching balloons.

You can learn Italian in the neighborhood:

Real estate is sold with an Italian flair, a red-white-green sign:

If you are longing for a blast of Italian culture, food, and style in the midwest, check out The Hill.