Bocce is the Italian version of lawn bowling. The earliest known form of the sport was a game played in the Italian Alps, early in the Christian Era, in which stones were tossed at a target stone in an attempt to land as close as possible to it. This was a source of amusement for Roman soldiers, who spread it through the empire. Balls were eventually substituted for the stones and they were usually rolled rather than tossed.
Three distinct types of lawn bowling developed through the centuries. In France, the game was known as boules, from the Classical Latin word for ball. A different form of the sport became known in England as "lawn bowls." Bocce, also known as boccia, derived its name from the Vulgar Latin word for ball, bottia.