The Balestro of Girifalco

The Balestro del Girifalco is one of the major medieval historical reenactments in Tuscany. It takes place in Massa Marittima, a town in the province of Grosseto, the main center of the Grosseto Metalliferous Hills.

The event

The event focuses on a target shooting competition with the ancient Italian crossbow. The crossbowmen are the representatives of the 3 Terzieri, that is the districts, into which the city in question, Massa Marittima, is divided. Each Terziere is represented by 8 crossbowmen. The 3 main Terzieri are: Cittanuova, Cittavecchia and Borgo.
There are also numerous figures, dressed in precious medieval velvet costumes, and the flag-wavers of the Compagnia Sbandieratori e Musici Massetani, who perform before the competition begins.

The event takes place on the fourth Sunday of May and the second Sunday of August. It takes place in the central square, Piazza Garibaldi, where the famous Cathedral of Massa Marittima is also located.

The challenge

The Saturday preceding Sunday the shooting order is drawn and the flags of the respective Terzieri are displayed on the facade of the Town Hall.
On Sunday, however, after the historical parade and the show of the flag-wavers, the Herald declares the start of the race. At this point, each crossbowman competes with his own crossbow. The dogwood or target is 36 meters away. The crossbowman who comes closest to the central part brings the victory to the Terziere to which he belongs. The winning crossbowman gets a symbolic arrow as a prize and the silk Palio painted by a different artist each time.

The origin

The Balestro was born around the 14th century. The event already existed in 1497; in fact, a description of it can be found in a resolution of the Major Council.
In 1959 in Massa Marittima some citizens decided to recall the ancient glories of the Free Municipality and thus the Società dei Terzieri Massetani was born, precisely to keep alive the art of the crossbow and its exercise.

Staying at Hotel Villa Ducci in San Gimignano you can participate in this magnificent historical event. By car, the distance is 75 km. However, for convenience, there are also many trains and buses arriving there.

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