The first game that resembled Bocce originated in ancient Rome. It used coconuts from Africa and later hard olive wood. Bocce was so popular during this time that it became too much of a distraction, and Kings Carlos IV and V banned the game for interfering with important military exercises.
Shortly after this ban, the Catholic Church also banned bocce, citing the game as a form of gambling.
Bocce ball, as it is known today, was made popular by Giuseppe Garibaldi in Italy. In 1896, the first bocce Olympiad was held in Athens, Greece. The first Italian bocce league formed in 1947.