The origins of bocce are believed to date back to 9000 BC where stone bowls were found in Turkey. Traces have also been found dating back to the time of the Pharaohs. In fact, a game similar to bocce was played in ancient Greece and during the middle ages.From the early Greek physician Ipocrates to the great Italian Renaissance man Galileo, the early participants of bocce have noted that the game's athleticism and spirit of competition rejuvenates the body. Bocce enjoyed rapid growth throughout Europe and became the sport of nobility and peasants alike. According to legend, Sir Francis Drake refused to set out to defend England against the Spanish Armada until he finished a game. He proclaimed, "First we finish the game, then we'll deal with the Armada!".
By the 1800s Bocce was played across the north of Italy and in other European countries like France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, Slovenia, Istra, Croatia and Bosnia. In Italy men played bocce at the back of 'Osterias' and along the back streets. In the mid-1800s Italy was unstable. The two Guiseppes Garibaldi and Mazzini led the 'red shirts' across the country in a bid to unify the Italian speaking peoples. It was during this period that many northern Italians started immigrating to places like Australia and America, taking the game of bocce with them.
Now, different countries around the world have their own version of bocce. It is played with various rules and on different surfaces, although the basic aim of the sport remains the same. As interest for competition between countries grew, so did the need for uniform rules. In 1946 the French, Italian, Swiss and Monegasque Federations formed the Federation international de Boules (F.I.B.) and International competition was born. In 1985, the Confederation Mondiale des Sports de Boules (C.M.S.B.) was formed to include all forms of the game. The C.M.S.B. consists of four International federations, F.I.P.J.P. (Petanque), C.B.I. (Raffa), World Bowls (Lawn Bowls), and F.I.B. (Bocce), with the F.I.B. being the oldest of the four. The C.M.S.B.was recognised by the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) in 1986, known as sport-boules.
Competitive bocce has a long history with the formation of the French Federation in 1888 and the Italian in 1919. But socially bocce has been played on the streets and in the parks for centuries before this. There are two main forms of bocce, Volo and Raffa. Volo is the most modernised form of the game with its technical throwing events involving a high level of fitness. Professional levels of the sport are played in European countries.
Today bocce is played throughout the world with 50 countries being members of the F.I.B. Regular World Championships for Men, Women, and juniors are held annually. It is also played at the World and Mediterranean Games. Six events are played at World Championships: Singles, Doubles, Combined (Bowl/Throw), Precision Throw, Progressive Throw, and Doubles Rapid Throw. Only the three throwing events are played at the World and Mediterranean Games, as these events are the future of the sport and adaptive to the younger generation of players