Palio di Siena

An Extraordinary Palio of Siena

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This year Siena celebrates the 100th anniversary of the end of the World War I, arranging an extraordinary Palio of Siena on October 20th 2018.

The Palio di Siena is considered the life of the people of Siena due to different aspects and feelings.

The first Palio was held in the middle of the seventeenth century, when the contrade, the horses and the regulations issued by the municipal authorities where involved, even though we believe that the Palio horse race has its origins in the distant past, with historical records indicating horse races in Siena already taking place in the 6th century.

The Palio di Siena is held in Piazza del Campo usually on July 2nd and August 16th, nowadays seventeen Contrade attends the race, each person belongs to a Contrada, participates in the life of the Contrada and the organization of the Palio throughout the entire year. The seventeen Contrade in which the historical center is divided, according to the borders established in 1729 by the Bando di Violante di Baviera, Governor of the City.

Palio di Siena

The Race: The Palio

– Ten of 17 Contrade run the Palio of July 2: the seven who have not raced in the Palio of July of the previous year, to which three are added, drawn from the ten who ran. The same holds for the Palio of August 16.

– The 10 contrade participate in the Palio race with a horse that is assigned to them by drawing from a list of horses selected from those physically suitable.

– The assignment of the horses takes place in the morning of June 29 and August 13, and before each Palio 6 test races take place (one in the morning and one in the afternoon)  that are needed for the jockey chosen by each Contrada to find the necessary harmony with the horse. The horse is mounted “a pelo” (bareback).

– You can watch the test races and the Palio by accessing for a fee to the tribunes (palchi) arranged around the Piazza or to the windows and balconies that overlook it, or for free from the inside of the Piazza (feel free to contact us to book one of the best spots where to enjoy the Palio)

– The Palio race is preceded by a procession (Passeggiata Storica) in which more than 600 participants take part, representing the 17 Contrade and institutions of the ancient Republic of Siena. The procession starts from Piazza del Duomo in the first hours of the afternoon, and winds through some streets of the town center before parading in Piazza del Campo.

– The winner of the Palio is the Contrada whose horse, having made three laps of the track, reaches, even “scosso” (i.e. without jockey), first the bandierino (little flag) of the finish line placed in front of the Palco dei Giudici (stage of the judges).

See the video

The Palio represents without a doubt a unique opportunity to live the warmth and passion of the city of Siena. If you have the opportunity of attending, do not pass up on this chance to experience such a passionate and special celebration.

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