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San Paolino's Days

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Crossbaw archers, flag players, musicians, figures, soldiers and duelers celebrate the patron saint of the city of Lucca, Paolino, with banqueting cross-tournaments among the city's "terzieri", historical parades and flag-playing performances.

Paolino of Lucca was a Roman bishop and, according to the tradition, the first "bishop of Lucca".

The veneration of the Saint started with the finding of the Saint's remains in the church of San Giorgio when this one was destroyed to be replaced by the second circle of the walls.

The miracle of to San Paolino happened on 12 July 1664. On the day of his holiday, one of the cannons on the San Donato rampart shot fire instead of blanks, as a massacre was supposed to occur.  A group of people, who were entering the historic centre through Porta San Donat, were luckily spared by a miracle.


Every year on the occasion of the Saint Patron's Day in Lucca, special celebrations are organized in the "San Paolino's Days": events commemorating both historic facts and tradition organized by the Town of Lucca and local associations.


Beside the organizing, Sbandieratori e Musici Città di Lucca - Contrada S. Anna, there are other Tuscan and Italian groups which take place to the parade. A cortege of all these groups leaves from Baluardo San Donato, it goes along through Via San Paolino and, after a symbolic greeting with drums and trumpets in front of church San Paolino, it ends in Piazza San Martino, the set of the Flags Parade and Play.

In the past editions flag twirlers from all over Italy took part into the parade. Some of them were from: Florence, Pisa, Amelia, Montefalco, Gallicano, Massa, Casalmaggiore, Capalbio.


Organized by the Associazione Contrade San Paolino, it is a  parade in historical costume which starts from church San Paolino and, by crossing the historic centre, it ends in Piazza San Martino with a unique performance of flag players. This usually precedes the calling of the crossbow archers competing in the Palio della Balestra on the evening of July 12.

At the end of this ceremony, the participants of the parade come back to the church of San Paolino where both the archers and the Palio are blessed. The Palio is a painted drape made by a local artist which also gives name to the crossbow archers' contest.


12 July

Curated by Associazione Historica Lucense it commamorates the miracle attributed to San Paolino. Every year blank shots are fired by cannons from Baluardo San Donato. The cannons used copies of the original guns from the middle of  XVth century.


The Palio competition, organized by Compagnia Balestrieri of Lucca, takes place at night in Piazza di San Martino in front of the Cathedral.

The participants are crossbow archers from the terzieri, which are the old quarters of Lucca: San Paolino, white and red; San Salvatore, white and green; San Martino, white and black.

The winning quarter always receives as a prize the Palio.

The competition is accompanied by flag plays, musics and medieval and renaissance dances.


During the precending and following days to the Saint Patron's Day, there are usually stalls in Via San Paolino where it is possible to taste local products and attend to music events.

A detailed program of the days is available on our event calendar.

Place: Historic centre, Lucca

Dates: July

Ticket: free admission


Compagnia Balestrieri Lucca
Mura Urbane, casermetta san Pietro, Lucca
0583 462138 - 338 2371277

Sbandieratori e Musici - contrada sant'Anna
Via Buonamici, 367 – S. Anna Lucca
tel. 348 8839382 -

Contrade san Paolino
Porta San Pietro, 1/3, Lucca
tel. 347 3579286 -