Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 17, 2013

Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes

…or in this case, the target. Yesterday was the day of the  Palio della Balestra, crossbow competition, in Bagni di Lucca. The beautiful grounds of Villa Ada, above La Villa, make a perfect location for the colourful event. Who doesn’t love a chance to dress up and shoot arrows into the air?

When I arrived the competition was well underway.















There were some great faces in the crowd.


I particularly liked these trousers.



The quivers and arrows and other bits are little works of art.


There were some great shoes.


Not far from the competition, in Villa Web, there was a demonstration of chocolate making from days gone by. It was held in the lovely old kitchen in the villa.



We also got to taste the chocolate…always a good idea.


There was some very loud cannon fire.


What wasn’t in evidence was a large crowd watching this genuinely wonderful event, largely because it wasn’t promoted at all. In fact the canon could have been firing real canon balls and it would have been flat out hitting anyone. I found it very difficult to find out any information. I just happen to know one of the participants who told me it was definitely on this year.

The Bagni di Lucca comune tourism department really needs to do some serious promotion of this and other happenings. I am sure visitors to the area would love to watch events like this.

I attended last year as well and I thought it was fabulous enough to line up again. Click here to see last year.

There was a tug-of-war in Bagni di Lucca on the weekend as well. Click here to see the handsome fellows taking part.


  1. Very nice pics & commentary.
    Your links to other events didn’t seem to work on my computer. I’m also convinced that one of the bowmen there was cross-eyed. Does it help when shooting a cross-bow I wonder?

    • I have fixed the links, thanks for letting me know. they worked when I set them up. Sometimes these things have mind of their own.

  2. […] here to see another fun event in Bagni di Lucca on the weekend…the crossbow competition in the […]

  3. It was fantastic to see Debra…thanks so much for letting us know it was on!

    • You just have to be lucky to be around at the right time.

  4. Brilliant post Deb — probably good thing I missed this event , as a stray bolt from Gina may have found and earthly human target perhaps !

    • I think you would have been safe.

  5. How fabulous is this? …btw… the high heels amongst it all!

    • I thought I would throw those in. She was skittering around on the loose stones…a bad choice of foot wear.

  6. seems it was a great fun there… I loved their wearing and accessories, so beautiful photographs dear Debra, Thanks and Love, nia

    • They certainly go to a lot of trouble to look good on the day.

  7. How fun. The costumes are amazing and so colourful

    • It is a great event for Bagni di Lucca.

  8. Seems to have hit the mark! Looks like fun, Deb! Anything that involves a great outfit is fun, at least in my eyes.

    Sara and I have finally moved into our house in Ecuador, and furniture arrived over the weekend. Now we have something to sit on! Maybe that means I can write, as well.


    • Lovely pun! I love this event. It is completely genuine. The participants are there for themselves, not an audience.

  9. A great event which needs more promotion as it is unique. Very interesting talk and demonstration – including tasting – on how chocolate was introduced into Italy from America, via Modica (Sicily) that was part of the Spanish Kingdom of Aragon, back in the early XVI Century. Great to see the special stones used by the Mayans to heat and grind the beans and make a chocolate paste (txokoatl it was called). A great array of the spices used to make different chocolate flavours and the special mould used. All this in the kitchen of the Palazzo Buonvisi, which basically remains as it was some 500 years ago! The competition, in traditional costumes, was also great. I can only hope that next year there will be more promotion of the event and that this will allow more people to attend it.
    Certainly, your blog, Debra, will help.

    • I love that kitchen. Lucky for us you were there to give us the history.

  10. I’m disappointed that I missed this, I was too busy chatting and drinking coffee in Il Monaco and didn’t realise the time. I did however happen to see the participants sat outside del Sonno in La Villa in full costume eating lunch, it was just like a medievil banquet. A date for the diary for next year. The photos as always are great, I especially like the shoes and the chocolate.

  11. I’m impressed with the authenticity of the costumes, especially on the men – all beautifully made and worn well, as evidenced in the jovial fellow in red. Love the way you’ve captured the conviviality of the event, Deb. Lucky you to get to taste the chocolate, yum!

    • It is a fun event. If the comune had any sense at all they would market this and bring people to the town for the weekend.

  12. Love the way the hearty keep traditions alive.

    • There are lots of young participants, which is great. I hope this means the events will continue.

      • Great point!

  13. SUCH color and style. You have to love it.

    • I do love these events…one of the reasons I like to be in Italy for months at a time.

  14. Very nice costumes. I already have one for the carnival in Venice 🙂

    • I look forward to seeing you in costume ant the Carnevale.

  15. What di YOU wear??? Brisbane in July may not quite cut it for cultural and sartorial style after this you realise! x

    • I wore regular clothes and felt quite under dressed. The costumes are gorgeous and so well cared for. They must be wrapped up in cotton wool waiting for their next outing.

  16. What beautifully elaborate costumes they have! 😀 I’m curious to know do the onlookers get dressed up too?

    • Many of the onlookers were dressed up, mostly wives, girlfriends, husbands, children. There were a few spectators, like me, in regular clothes just there for the spectacle.

  17. Fantastic photos of a fantastic event in a fantastic place with amazing people.

    • I love these local events.

  18. Great stuff, Debra!

  19. Great reporting of a very special event. You certainly know your area. I admit I’m quite lazy with hunting down events like these in Veneto and have never even been to Carnivale in Venice! There always seems to be something else on.. And a shame there wasn’t much publicity with such an effort involved.

    • I really enjoy these local events. It can be quite difficult to track them down, but always worthwhile.

  20. […] Villa Webb seems to have fared the best of the three and, with a little sweeping-up was chosen last week to host Bagni’s cross-bow competition. The competition has been extensively covered at […]

  21. What an amazing event – I can’t believe it is not promoted. I would LOVE to dress up like that, bow-and-arrows or not.

    • I wouldn’t mind dressing up too.

  22. Sounds like a fabulous event! Can’t comprehend the lack of publicity though. Perhaps they don’t want it getting too big and touristy? Fab shots Debra.

    • There is absolutely no thought at all given to publicity in our area…seriously behind the times in this respect.

  23. […] here to see the 2013 […]

  24. […] Click here to see a bit more. […]

  25. […] […]

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