You can relive history at the Balestro del Girifalco in Italy twice each year as the famous crossbow-shooting contest takes place in May and August between the different regions of the picturesque town ofMassa Marittima, which lies in the Maremma’s wilderness.
The festival takes place every year on the fourth Sunday in May and the second Sunday in August. The crossbow contestends with a flourish as people try to shoot a mechanical falcon down and then follow the competition with plenty of drinks and food along with several colorful parades.
The event tries to recapture the ancient tradition of the crossbow in Italy, and it’s a good way to be transported back throughout history.
It’s an organised competition, but there’s also a lot of fun to be had as the contest opens with a pageant that features more than 150 participants, who are dressed up in traditional medieval clothing.
There are 24 crossbowmen who take part in the competition. There are eight each from the three different sections (Terzieri) of Massa Marittima, which are called known as Cittanuova, Borgo, and Cittavecchia.
The town of Massa Marittima was constituted as a free city way back in 1225, so you know there’s a wealth of history, tradition and culture on display there.
The archers shoot arrows out of ancient-style Italian crossbows which are based on the weapons that were used in the 15th century ancestors.
After the bow has been loaded, the archers take their position on a bench and take aim at the corniolo, which is the target and sits just over 35 meters away.
The Corniolo is basically a piece of wood that’s shaped like a cone and is about 17 inches high five inches wide. The smaller end of the piece of wood fits into a black disc which is about 18 inches wide.
The archer who hits the closest to the center of the target is the winner and is given a golden arrow. The winner’s district will take home a large silk banner.