The Palio in Siena

Il Palio is on 2 July and 16 August.

The Palio is a horse race held in Siena twice a year, its origins are from the medieval period. The race is run between ten horses ridden bareback for three laps of  Piazza del Campo, Siena’s main square. The race normally lasts no more than 90 seconds. Each jockey represents one Contrada (city ward). The 17 Contrade of Siena take part in the Palio in turn.

The Palio is not just a simple horse race but a perfectly choreographed event where rituals are carried out days before the actual race.  The  Corteo Storico (pageant) is a march that takes place in the afternoon before the race where the ancient institutions and Contrade of Siena parade around Piazza del Campo with almost seven hundred participants dressed in historical costume. The two-hour parade is accompanied by drumming , music, flag throwing, a show of the horses and the “Palio”. The ‘Palio’ is a hand painted depiction on a rectangular drape of silk given as the prize to the winning Contrada.

The race in embedded in the DNA of the local Sienese people and their Contrade. The Contrade vie with intense rivalry amongst each other for the whole year and the whole event is very heartfelt. This culminates in the Palio race itself where there are almost no rules to be observed respected to win the race. 

This competition starts well before the horses reach the Piazza. From bribing the jockeys, different Contrade making alliances  against another enemy Contrada, to jockeys beating each other during the race and even interfering at the start of the race: anything goes!

So to be part of this exciting event, ask Gaia for information, she is a true born Sienese and can assist you in living the Palio day in Siena to the fullest.


Geschrieben von arcenorentals • Januar 21, 2021
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