Siena, Italy – Palio di Siena

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July 2, 2017 @ 11:00 am – August 16, 2017 @ 10:00 pm
Piazza Del Campo, Siena, Italy
Piazza del Campo
53100 Siena, Province of Siena
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The Event – Palio di Siena

The Palio di Siena is one of the most well-known historic festivals in Italy. It consists of an exciting horse race in Siena’s fan-shaped main square, Piazza del Campo. It takes part on the 2nd of July and on the 16th of August every year.


First of all, they divide the city into 17 contrade (districts), each of them represented by a champion rider. Also, only 10 con trade take part in the first race on July 2. While the other seven, plus the winning three from the first race, compete on August 16.


Race day starts with a special blessing of the horses and a great procession through the historic centre of Siena.  While the streets are full of  people in costumes from each contrada and performances by flag throwers.  Horses circle the track 3 times.  In conclusion, they award the winning horse and contrada the palio (a victory flag.)


The History – Palio di Siena

The Palio di Siena celebrates the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary near the old houses that belonged to Provenzano Salvani. Therefore, the holy apparition was called “Madonna di Provenzano” in whose honor the very first Palio was run on August 16, 1656. While the Palio was run for the first time in 1701 in honor of the “Madonna dell’Assunta”.  She was the patroness and Advocate of Siena.  Especially relevant, she protected the Sienese militia at the famous battle of Monteaperti on September 4, 1260, against the Florentines.


The Palio di Siena is a historical secular tradition strictly connected with the origin of the Contrabass of Siena (districts into which the town is divided). The Contrabass are spectacular agonistic institutions, which have their own government, oratory, coat of arms, appellations, sometimes titles of nobility, emblems and colors, official representatives, festivities, patron Saints, delimited territories and population.  Most importantly, each population consists of all those people who were born or live within the topographic limits of the district, according to the proclamation issued by Violante Beatrice of Bavaria on January 7, 1730. At that time, she was the Governess of the town.


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