Discover Tuscany

Tourist Travel Guide to Holidays in Tuscany

Palio di Siena

The Palio is the most important traditional festival in the city of Siena.

It’s a horse race that lasts less than two minutes, but the betting for this race are all year long and it is consistently in the speeches of the people, who live it with great participation.

For them it is the event of the year, able to make men and women laugh or cry.

Siena is divided into seventeen “Contrada” (districts). Citizens of Siena do not feel part of the city, but part of their district.

The districts are in constant competition and confrontation starts months before the event in speeches and betting, but also in preparation and dreams of victory.

For each race are selected 10 districts and each one has a horse. The day of the race Piazza del Campo is filled with thousands of people.

Every summer there are two races: July 2 and August 16. The festivities begin three days before each Palio, even if the wait is already evident weeks in advance.

In the days before the competition, there are a series of public events, like the blessing of the horses, banquets, parades and many festivals with all kinds of music and songs at any time of day or night.

The day of the Palio, the square is already crowded with spectators at noon, though the Italian summer heat brings inconvenience to those who are waiting under the sun.

Places on the edge of the square are usually sold out eight months before the race. The area is isolated few minutes before the Palio.

Finally, the long-awaited race starts and it is already over before the dust settles.

The triumph of the district winner will be celebrated with banquets and parties lasting for weeks. The Palio of Siena is a unique phenomenon.

This is an event that one should watch at least once in life.

Pin It
« // »

  • Social