Palazzo del Papa Country Suites

The Palio of Siena

Palazzo del Papa Suites

The Palio of Siena

The Palio di Siena is a historic event that has involved, for centuries, the entire city and precisely the 17 districts from which it is made up. The districts are the districts or areas that form the historic center of Siena.

The districts, each with its own coat of arms and identifying colour, are: Aquila, Bruco, Chiocciola, Civetta, Drago, Giraffa, Istrice, Leocorno, Lupa, Nicchio, Oca, Onda, Pantera, Selva, Tartuca, Torre, Valdimontone.

The Palio di Siena takes place every year on July 2nd and August 16th and consists of a horse race along the perimeter of Piazza del Campo, which is appropriately prepared for the competition with a traditional tuff covering.

The two dates on which the Palio takes place are not coincidental. On July 2nd the race, called “career”, is in honor of the Madonna of Provenzano while the one on August 16th is in honor of the Assumption of Mary.

The Palio di Siena is preceded by several dress rehearsals, 6 tests, and then by the large historical procession which culminates in Piazza del Campo around 5pm.

The actual race consists of 3 wild laps of the square; to win, it is sufficient for a horse from a district to arrive even without a jockey (“shaken”); in fact he may have been unhorsed during the race. The jockeys ride strictly “bareback”, i.e. without a saddle.

There are several places where the course is difficult and it is not uncommon for a jockey to fall off his horse, either due to speed or the actions of another jockey. In fact, it is permitted for competitors to carry out disruptive actions on other riders.

The winner of the Palio is then given the “Drappellone”, a canvas that is drawn every year by a different author and which will become part of the collection of the winning district.

Once the race is over, often as night has already fallen, the winning Contrada members go with their trophy to the Church of Provence (in July) or to the Cathedral of Siena (in August) to sing a “Te Deum” of thanks.

For the Palio di Siena there is no single ticket office. It is therefore necessary to contact the managers of each stage (so-called “stage makers”) or whoever owns a house that overlooks Piazza del Campo. In general it is advisable to contact the Tourist Information Office (A.P.T. of Siena) for further details.