Crossbow Palio

Palio della Balestra

Local Tradition


  • Ancient crossbow contest between Gubbio and Sansepolcro
  • Participants wear medieval costumes
  • Second Sunday of September annually
  • Celebrates Renaissance heritage and history
Stage 8: Pieve Santo Stefano to Sansepolcro
Piazza Torre di Berta
52037 Sansepolcro, Province of Arezzo, Italy

Second Sunday of September

Admission Fees:



The Palio della Balestra is a fascinating annual event that takes place in Sansepolcro, Italy, every second Sunday of September.

This ancient crossbow competition pits the participants of Gubbio against those of Sansepolcro in a thrilling contest of skill and accuracy.

Dressed in colorful medieval costumes, the crossbowmen use antique weapons to hit the target, called the “corniolo,” from a distance of 36 meters.

The day is packed with various events, including a parade of historical figures, flag throwers, and Renaissance music.

This celebration of Renaissance heritage and history attracts thousands of tourists and locals, immersing them in the rich culture and traditions of the region.

Event Schedule

On the day of the event, the morning begins with the exit of the messenger and a reading of competition announcements. The afternoon is filled with the crossbow competition, while the evening sees a court procession honoring the winner. Throughout the day, the Sant’Egidio Market, a faithful reconstruction of a Renaissance-era marketplace, takes place in the streets of the historic center.


Dating back to the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Palio della Balestra has its roots in the necessity for city defense.

Crossbowmen were citizens who served as military reserves, honing their skills through practice and competition.

The tradition of the Palio has remained unchanged in Sansepolcro and Gubbio, a testament to the area’s dedication to preserving its heritage.

The renowned Renaissance painter, Piero della Francesca, was a talented crossbowman who once participated in the Palio, further highlighting the event’s cultural significance.

Photo Gallery