Palio della Balestra

11.09.2022 00:00 - 00:00

The “Palio delle Balestra” or the Crossbow “Palio” takes place in Sansepolcro every year on the second Sunday of September. Since 1594, the splendid Piazza Torre di Berta square has been the setting for a competition between 160 crossbowmen from the rival cities of Sansepolcro and Gubbio, just like in Renaissance times. The competition consists of hitting a target, called the “corniolo” or “tasso,” with an arrow that is shot from a large crossbow called a "balestrone" at a distance of 36 meters.

Piero della Francesca, one of the great Renaissance master painters was also talented with the crossbow. In 1453, he returned to his hometown Sansepolcro to compete in the “Palio” and took home one of the 160 prized crossbows.

In the Renaissance, and even before in the Middle Ages, crossbowmen were citizens who played a role in the military reserves. In order to keep themselves trained and ready to defend their village, they practiced the art of the crossbow and competed in the “Palio.”

The winner won a piece of red wool called the “Pallium.”

Every summer, thanks to the Crossbow “Palio,” Sansepolcro comes to life with a Renaissance festival full of colours, music, costumes and flags. The atmosphere is that of the ancient jousts, of a world that is no longer there. Ancient rites that are performed in the same way they once were and can tell a lot about the soul of a place and its people.


Palio della Balestra

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