The century-old tradition is run in August
Siena is the capital of Tuscan historical traditions. The Palio of Siena – which is run twice a year in the picturesque Piazza del Campo – is an event awaited by all Sienese people, each supporting their own district and participating passionately to the historic horse race.
The Palio is not just a historical commemoration, it epitomises Siena’s identity and popular traditions in its many rituals, and has been held without interruption since 1644. The 17 districts were established in 1729 by Violante of Bavaria, Governor of the City, and now compete against each other, turning the race into a fabulous fête with events, parties and a great atmosphere. The race itself is preceded by a procession with over 600 people representing the 17 districts and institutions of the ancient Republic of Siena. The procession starts from the Cathedral Square in the early hours of the afternoon, and winds through the streets of the city centre before parading in the Piazza del Campo.
The second Palio of Siena is held on 16 August. The districts – Contrade – that will be competing this year are Leocorno, Bruco, Aquila, Pantera, Dragone, Gufo, Giraffa, Tartaruga, Nicchio and Lupa. They will be going three times round the piazza, which will be equipped for the purpose.
Unsurprisingly, every year tourists flock to the Siena terraces overlooking Piazza del Campo in order to have a front row seat: the Palio is a spectacle for the eyes and the ears that you must experience at least once in a lifetime.