I didn't mean to win bocce. I have only played once or twice in my life many moons ago and didn't realise I was so good. It may have helped that the eldest player was a 99 year old lady from up near Padova and the youngest was in his eighties. And to be fair I didn't win every game, just the one and after realising the strength of my bocce ball rolling hand I claimed beginners luck and threw the ball astray from then on. I wasn't playing bocce in Italy even though we were all speaking Italian. I was playing bocce here, in Melbourne in an Italian speaking nursing home. The game started out calmly. I was told that old Adamo (not his real name, none of the names I mention are real names) was the supervisor.
I first met Adamo the week before when he instantly befriended me after I mentioned the words San Marco in Lamis. San Marco in Lamis is where my grandparents are from, now a beautiful but once a poor, struggling town in Puglia. Adamo trapped me last week telling me tales of hidden money planted under the tree in his families old estate. I have a little trouble understanding old Italians (no teeth and a bit of dialect make it hard follow!) and tried to find out about this tree...but then Adamo's mind started to wander and he couldn't remember if he had planted the money in Italy or here in Australia. When he originally migrated he was living in a country town which had a lot of trees just like his old home in San Marco... Anyway, today old Adamo was the bocce supervisor.
There were about 10 of us. Some of the players were abled bodied and minded, bending their legs like a pro bowler, silently plotting their next move. A few of the less able bodied rolled the bocce ball from their chairs or walkers. Some were actually good players and some not so good but they had fun. It was a serious game though. Two of the players have the same colour bocce balls so there was a bit of tension when Adamo could not correctly call the winner. He was supervising from his chair and couldn't see if the bocce ball was with or without a sticker. Simone was also one of the 'organisers.' He was an immaculately dressed man, probably in his 90s who would go and collect the balls after each game. He walked with a walking frame which was useful to rest his box on. Inside the box was his ruler. Sometimes it can be hard to tell who is the winner and he has to measure with his ruler which ball is closest to the small white ball. He didn't have to measure the distance today, and I don't even know if he can bend to measure, but the ruler was in his box and slowly after each game he hobbled over with a more able bodied friend, collected the balls and handed them back to us.
We played bocce to the sound of tone deaf opera singers who were sitting on the floor above. The nursing home is a large 3 level place with the centre from top to bottom all open. The 99 year old, let's call her Pina, had handed over her red bocce balls to me as she went upstairs to sing with a few others. Once a week a volunteer comes to sing with who ever wants to sing, which at the moment is 2 or 3 ladies. They sing ballads from their youth, all in Italian and at one stage we clapped but most of the time we cringed. We were playing a serious bocce game after all and this just wasn't helping with concentration.
We were all thankful when it was finally time for the coffee break. We put the bocce balls away and the opera singers put their soprano voices to rest as we applauded our two winners (I came third.) Now it was time for coffee and then a short nap!