What game is as ancient as Rome and still fun to play today?
It's bocce, an Italian ball game that involves rolling resin bocce balls down a long rectangular court at a small target ball, called a pallino. A familiar activity in places like the Napa Valley, bocce is becoming more popular in backyards across the West.
Sandy Brewer and her husband, David, a landscape contractor, design bocce courts like this one at Landmark Vineyards in Kenwood, California.
DESIGN: Boccebrew, San Rafael, CA (415/453-8842)
Build your own bocce court
Standard courts for amateur players are 60 by 12 feet.
Dig and level the playing area.
Build the box to contain the playing surface. Use a builder's level.
Install a French drain (an area in which water collects and runs through a perforated pipe) with 3/4-inch crushed rock.
Cover the surface with 1/2-inch hardware cloth.
Fill with class II base rock (used under asphalt roadways).
Cover with a 3-inch layer of decomposed granite or a mixture of clay and crushed oyster shells.
Finish with a 1/4-inch layer of crushed oyster shell "flour."