Palio di Siena Horse Race - Best Tuscany Events

June 18th 2010 by Giulia

2nd July and 16th August: one of the most ancient horse races in the world

Flickr, Dean Ayres

The aim is not to be a touristic attraction, even if many tourists decide to visit the medieval city of Siena during these periods. The Palio di Siena has ancient origins and represents the life of the citizens of Siena in its different features.

Siena is divided in 17 districts called Contrade, each of them having their own name, government, emblems and colours.

For security reasons, the Contrade which can take part to the Palio di Siena are only 10. The remaining 7 will have a right to participate the following year, when the others 3 will be drawn. This happens for each of the two editions of this amazing Tuscany event that usually take place during the year.

Flickr, Dean Ayres

The Palio di Siena takes normally place twice a year: on 2nd July (Palio of Provenzano) and on 16th August (Palio of Madonna dell’Assunta). It can happen that a 3rd edition is organised in case of special events like the man on the moon or to celebrate the end of the XX century. These special editions are organized between May and September.

4 feast days
Actually, the Palio di Siena Festival starts 4 days before the event. 10 horses are selected among 30 available and are then drawn lots and assigned to the Contrade, which start the heats to test the course.

The course is circular and takes place around the main place of the city: Piazza del Campo. To win the race, the horse-jockey has to go round the Piazza three times. But if he falls down, don’t worry: the horse can even go on without him and win the race alone!!!

Flickr, Dean Ayres

In fact, the horse is the real protagonist and the winner is celebrated by the Contradaioli (belonging to a Contrada) during the following months. In particularly, a special dinner is organised between September and October in the winning Contrada and a place of honour is reserved for him!

Choose the Piazza to attend the Palio!!!
You can attend the race for free in the Piazza together with the citizens of Siena. You have just to be aware that there are no toilets there available and that it could really be a very hot day, so provide a bottle of water with you!!

Flickr, yab994

If you rather prefer a more comfortable location, you can try to find a ticket for the tribune or to buy a place in a balcony or a window overlooking the Piazza. It is not very easy as there is not a central organization so you have to contact private citizens directly.

If you’re looking for an Hotel in Tuscany, please note that many Hotels provide special offers for the Palio.
Take advantage of them to visit the fascinating Tuscany!!!

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Palio di Siena Horse Race - Best Tuscany Events