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Palio di Siena
Medieval Horse RaceAvailability good
Emerse yourself in the emotions of Siena’s world famous medieval horse race, Il Palio. As featured in the opening scenes of the latest James Bond film, ‘Quantum of Solace’, this high energy, emotionally charged race is an event not to be missed.
The traditions of the Palio, a festival in honour of the Virgin Mary, date back to the Middle Ages. It has existed in its present form since 1656, running twice a year on July 2nd (Palio di Provenzano) and August 16th (Palio dell’Assunta). Every year on these dates Siena comes alive with colorful tradition for four days filled with historical parades, flag throwing competitions, and banquets in anticipation of the big race round the town’s main square, Piazza del Campo.
Named after an animal or symbol each district, which represents a specific area of Siena, is known as a contrada. The contrade were originally formed in the Middle Ages to defend Siena as it fought for independence from Florence. 10 of the 17 local districts participate in the race which is much more than a horse race to the Sienese, it is a culmination of neighborhood rivalry, pride and competition.
The race is preceded by a splendid parade, Corteo Storico, which lasts for around two hours before the jockeys take their positions and ride bareback round Piazza del Campo. The Palio is won by the horse representing the contrada and not by the jockey with the loser coming in second place and not last. The winner is awarded a hand-painted banner of silk, the Palio - refered to as ‘the rag’ in Siena, which has a unique design each year and remains the property of the winning contrada.
The winning Contrada then celebrates by carrying the Palio through the streets to the chapel of their headquarters and then the real festivities begin with drinking, dancing, flag throwing until the wee hours of the morning.
The Palio event in Siena happens twice a year on July 2nd and August 16th.
• Round-trip transport by private, air-conditioned bus
• Walking tour of Siena*
• After the Palio go to the area of the winning Contrada**
• Free time for dinner and to experience Siena by night
• FlorenceForFun Palio guide to the history, Contrade and horses that are running this year
• FlorenceForFun Tour guides
* Note that the walking tour will include some of the key sights in Siena but is limited due to the crowds and the roads that are closed for the Medieval Procession that leads up to the Palio. The Medieval Procession runs through the streets of Siena and eventually into Piazza del Campo. You can get an up close look at the Medieval costumes and the different colours and symbols representing each Contrada.
** After the race, the winning team carry the Palio through the streets of Siena to the Chapel of the Contrada Headquarters. Here you can view the Palio banner up close.
Please wear sensible shoes – ballet flats, sandals or sneakers are suitable. There is no difficult walking but you will be standing for most of the day. It is important that you are comfortable. We also recommend that you have a hat and sunscreen as you will be in the sun for most of the afternoon.
We recommend that you check the weather forecast before the trip so you can dress appropriately. This trip will not be canceled based on the weather forecast except in the case that the weather would prevent us from safely reaching our destination.
You will need to have enough money for food (dinner, drinks and snacks) and any souvenirs you choose to buy. The prices in Siena are similar to Florence and there are a range of options including sandwiches, pizza by the slice, pasta, gelato, restaurants, etc.
FlorenceForFun officeVia Ghibellina 131/red, Florence
Opening hours: Monday to Friday
between 10:00am and 6:00pm.
Phone: (+39) 055 283 759
Cell: (+39) 328 7290848
Fax:(+39) 055 283 759
Facebook Page: FlorenceForFun