The Palio

The Palio of Siena is the soul, the essence of the spirit of belonging to the city.

It comes from a very ancient tradition: the first embryo of the event dates back to the battle of Montaperti in 1260, when the final tournament for the Independence Assumption ceremonies became a symbol of Siena under the protection of the Virgin.

Since then, every year the tradition is renewed in the traditional Palio di Siena, which takes place July 2 (day of the Madonna di Provenzano) and August 16 (day of Our Lady of the Assumption). Even today the Palio refers to the Regulation of 1656, which marks the official birth of the Palio of Piazza del Campo, and as the location of the Palio.

Protagonists of the Palio, the 17 city districts: Caterpillar, Eagle, Owl, Snail, Dragon, Giraffe, Porcupine, Unicorn, Lupa, Nicchio, Goose, Wave, Pantera, Selva, Tortoise Tower and Valdimontone. Each year, however, are only the 10 districts that can participate in the race: the 7 districts excluding the previous year and 3 randomly selected.

The crucial moment of the Palio is without a doubt the “move” when the starter lowers the rope to start the race. It is the moment when the entire city holds its breath.

It is, in fact, the only race in the world in which to start anything goes: low blows, obstacles opponents, Seat changes. Each share of the jockeys, during the move, it is planned and willed: is the defining moment of the competition and determines the outcome of the entire race. The move can last from a few minutes to over an hour, only ilmossiere has to decide the right time to lower the canape and start the race.

The starter, fundamental figure of the Palio, is appointed by the City Council on a proposal of the Captains. To win you need to make three laps of the course, winning the risk of the historical curves of the House, and St Martin. The jockeys ride bareback, ie without saddle and also apply horse victories “shaken” (with fallen knight). For tourists it is an amazing sight, but it is even more to the Sienese.

It is a party in which people care a lot and memorable time, who give their time, conviction and evidence. So if you happen to visit the city in the days of the Palio, do not forget to give respect to the event, breathing fully that surreal atmosphere of tension and joy that reigns in the city!

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