Capri Connection: Jolley Bridge bocce connection

Ann Hall

A group of bocce players from Isles of Capri Bocce League and Marco Island met for the first time for get acquainted games. It all began with an email on March 16 that read:  “Eddie, would you people like to bring a couple of teams to Mackle Park?  We do not even have to play against each other; we can mix it up – just to get to know each other. Peter Pareene.”

The Capri league was just completing their March Madness finals and closing ceremonies so Hall suggested that the get-together be scheduled for early April.  With an open invitation on both sides of the Jolley Bridge, 12:30 p.m., April 7, became the time for the players to meet and play together for the first time.  Many of the Capri team members are “snow birds” and had already flown north, but the ones who were able to play said they had such a good time and look forward to having more get-acquainted games next season.

Marco bocce players take turns holding up a paddle that is turned to show red or green indicating which team’s turn it is to roll.  This was initiated to keep from yelling down the court to one another.

Snacks and cold water were provided by Marco and both groups were anxious to learn from one another.

“How high do you play to,” asked Bill Reid a Marco player when talking about the score for each game.  Marco plays to 12 and Capri plays to 15.

“What is that thing you use to measure whose ball is closer to the Pallino (the target ball)?” asked Connie Taylor, one of the Capri players when she saw the laser distance measuring device being used for the first time. Capri players use a tape measure, but seemed very excited to see the preciseness the electronic device provided.

Marco players took turns holding up a paddle that was painted green on one side and red on the other.  This they said was to let players know whose turn it was to roll the ball. Isles of Capri players liked that technique and laughingly George Taylor, a Capri player said, “We just yell – red rolls, etc., but that would sure be a lot easier and less noisy.”

Jeff Peterson, left, Manny Puglisi, and John Martini were among the Marco Island bocce players at the get-acquainted games at Mackle Park on Friday, April 7.  Manny is 93 years old.

“How did you get your league started,” Charles Pineno asked Capri bocce league coordinator Eddie Hall.  Hall spent time after the games mapping out the steps Capri took beginning back in 2004. After returning to Capri, Hall sent Pineno examples of correspondence, schedules, and competition structure to help Pineno should he decide to form a league on Marco.

Bocce was not all that the players shared. They had a great time sharing stories about their lives, families, and businesses. One of the most interesting was a story shared by Manny Puglisi, age 93, one of Marco’s oldest and said to be best players.

“I was a farmer,” said Manny Puglisi, when I asked Puglisi what he did before coming to Marco. “What did you farm?” I asked. “Chickens,” said Puglisi.  “Did you get lots of eggs?” was my next question. “Only about two million a day,” said Puglisi with a laugh.

Manny and his wife Mary Puglisi, along with their children own and operate a family-run chicken farm that he began in 1950. Their farms are in Howell, New Jersey and Middletown, Delaware. Chickens and eggs are not the only products they distribute. They also sell dairy products, frozen foods and they say, “A whole lot more.”

Marco Island and Isles of Capri bocce players mix up to form teams for their first get-acquainted games on Friday, April 7 at Mackle Park.

Upon returning to their respective sides of the bridge, both Hall and Pareene followed up the day of fun and fellowship over friendly games of bocce with these emails; Hall wrote: “Dear Peter, we enjoyed meeting and playing bocce with you and your fellow players.  You were so hospitable, and your players were so warm and friendly. It was such a nice experience. I am sorry the other two teams did not show; maybe next season before so many leave we can get together again. We will be sending you some pictures we took in the near future. You are always welcome to come and play with us on Capri as well.  It is fun to see how others play and to try different courts. Please thank everyone for us, and let them know how much we enjoyed our day with you. Fondly, Eddie Hall.”
Pareene writes back: “You better believe we will get together next season. We sign up early in season, like 8 a.m. as doors open at Mackle Park on the first of December so we can get two courts all season.  You guys play very good; you can sign up for a slot at the park. I come down on the first of December and leave the middle of April. We play Hideaway and go up to Island Walk for fun competition. The “Bob Ray Memorial Tournament” is open to all, so like I said at the beginning of January you can sign up for tournament. Thanks for coming. See you in December. Friends of Marco, Peter Pareene.”

Throwing balls at a target is one of the oldest games known. Historical records date it beginning as early as 5000 B.C. as the Egyptians played a form of bocce with rocks. While bocce today looks quite different from its early form, it still has the common objective of trying to come as close to a fixed target as possible. Tracing the game from its origination takes it from Egypt, to Greece, then to Rome. The early Romans version of the game more closely resembles the bocce that we play today. Early players were said to use coconuts brought back from Africa. Later they used hard olive wood to carve out bocce balls.   Bocce players often speak of the game’s athleticism and spirit of friendly rejuvenating competition.

According to Wikipedia, “Bocce developed into its present form in Italy.”

The game has become so popular on the Isles of Capri that one of the more recently constructed houses on Capri includes a private bocce court. The Capri League now has 16 teams divided into two divisions. This allows nearly 100 players to participate during an eight week season. The season concludes with a March Madness single elimination competition and a closing ceremonial banquet.

Players on both sides of the bridge say they look forward to getting together over friendly games next season.

Contact Ann Hall at