Crossbow of the Girifalco
The Balestro del Girifalco of Massa Marittima is one of the most appreciable medieval historical manifestations of the Tuscan Maremma (and perhaps of Italy), it consists of a crossbow competition between the town districts with a historical parade and flag-wavers.
The historical re-enactment of the Balestro del Girifalco is held twice a year: the first in honor of San Bernardino da Siena, born in Massa Marittima, the second in honor of the free Municipality of Massa Marittima. The historical re-enactment was founded in the 14th century, as a show for the citizens and to instruct the young people of Massa to “the laudable exercise of the crossbow that could be useful in the necessary times and cases”. To the winners: “Anyone who will have more shots will be given a steel crossbow with a walker”. The palio – public – normally took place until 1554, the year in which the city of Massa Marittima fell under the domination of Florence. The Balestro del Girifalco – today – takes place in the imposing and splendid setting of the fourteenth-century palaces of the center of Massa Marittima, with parades of figures (about 250) through the streets of the town, which reach the square in front of the Duomo – Cathedral of San Cerbone, where the crossbow competition takes place, reconstructed exactly to the use of the fourteenth century.
At the Balestro di Massa Marittima arrows are shot at the target – “Il Girifalco” – which represents the robbery bird that must be centered and eliminated by the participants.
The Terzieri of:
- Cittavecchia – colors: white-black-yellow.
- Cittanuova – colors: white-red-green.
- Borgo – colors: yellow-blue-red.
Usually the demonstration starts around 17:00.
Resources on the Balestro del Girifalco
- Società dei Terzieri Massetani– Official site of the Balestro del Girifalco and Terzieri di Borgo, Cittanuova and Cittavecchia.