Twice a year, every July 2nd and August 16th, Siena comes alive as the world famous il Palio horse race is held on the Piazza del Campo. There are 17 contrade in Siena, the equivalent of city districts, and ten of them race on July 2nd. The seven communes who did not participate in the first event race on August 16th in a ten horse field which is augmented by three horses from other communes chosen by a draw.
The jockey’s ride bareback three laps around the Piazza del Campo and it is a colorful and emotional day as they are racing for the honor of their commune!
The pageantry of the event is colorful, as each contrada has representatives in medieval costumes marching with their flags during the two hour Corteo Storico parade. Just before the event a squad of mounted Carabinieri wielding swords charge across the race course and then at 7:30 P.M. for the July 2nd race, and 7 P.M. for the August 16th race, the real race is run.
It’s fast and exciting, as the jockeys can use any means possible to win, and will be seen pushing and elbowing their opponents. It is not infrequent to see many of the horses finish without their jockeys!
In 2013 all eyes will be on jockey Luigi Bruschelli a/k/a “Trecciolino) who will be trying to win his 14th Palio – which will tie him with Andrea de Gortes for the most victories ever.
TuscanDream invites you to spend your holiday at one of our amazing villas in the province of Siena – such as the wonderful Villa Spino (picture below) and then catch the Palio – and see if your contrada raises the Drappellone, the banner of victory! By the way – the smart money is on the contrada of Oca – who have won more races that any other district!