The Federazione Balestrieri Sammarinese (San Marino Crossbowmen's Federation) was founded in 1956. With each performance this group goes back to an ancient right, intimately linked to the defense of country, city, home and territory against threatened loss of freedom.
In times long past, it was the crossbowmen who defended the city walls and the freedom of the Republic of San Marino. Special arrangement compelled the Captains Regent to provide the Crossbowmen with new crossbows and new arrows when necessary. To ensure that the Crossbowmen were quite adept in use of their arms, the Statutes, Ledger XXXVIII, established that once a year, on the 3rd of September, a Feast dedicated to the Founding Saint Marinus would be celebrated with the 'Palio delle Balestre Grandi' (Grand Crossbow Palio). The competition served a double purpose, to honour St. Marinus and to ensure that the Crossbowmen kept their arms in good repair by competing with one another.
This tradition has come down to us today; the 'Palio' has achieved great importance and today costumed figures, musicians and flag-wavers complete the pageantry of the crossbow competition. www. federazionebalestrieri.sm