Crossbow Palio – Sansepolcro
September 13th, the competition between the crossbowmen of Sansepolcro and Gubbio
Palio della Balestra (Crossbow competition) is a traditional Medieval festival, celebrated every second Sunday in September.
In May the crossbowmen of Sansepolcro go to Gubbio to engage in a crossbow competition in honour of Sant’Ubaldo.
While on the second Sunday of September the crossbowmen of Gubbio challenge their counterparts of Sansepolcro in honour of Sant’Egidio. This year the Palio takes place on September 13th, 2020 and it can be considered as the rematch.
The palio is the closing event of a whole week of celebrations, such as Convivio Rinascimentale, a themed dinner party at Chiostro di Santa Chiara in Sansepolcro.
The crossbowmen were very important because they had the task to protect the territory against the enemies and invaders. The competition was also a way to keep constantly fit.
The goal to aim was to hit the corniolo or tasso, (the target) with the arrow threw with the crossbow from a distance of 36 meters.
The Palio of the crossbow in Sansepolcro is connected to other 2 important dates:
– in September 27th, 1612, Cosimo De’ Medici visited Sansepolcro, and an extraordinary Palio della balestra was celebrated in which the Grand Duke took part by demonstrating his great skills;
– in 1920 Umberto II of Savoia was nominated Honorary President of the Crossbowmen Society of Sansepolcro;
– on September 1st, 2012 an extraordinary Palio was held for the millennium of the city and the cathedral of Sansepolcro.