On August 16th, Siena buzzes a little more than usual.
It is the day (one of two) when Il Palio takes over the town.
The church bell in the famous Mangio Tower sounds at 8am, as
jockeys attend Mass with the Archbishop of Siena. Later the horses will be blessed in
their contrade too.
It is a great honour for the jockey to wear the colours of his
contrade, but it is the horse who is the star. Unlike other horse-races, the horse can
even win without a jockey.
There are 17 contrade (districts) in the city of Siena, but only ten
horses may compete for il Palio (the secretly created banner presented as a prize) because
of space restrictions.
The Palio Race - © Travel Notes.
The race is run around the Piazza del Campo, and is over in around 75
seconds; although for the loosers, the shame lasts a lot longer.
Palii were often associated with major festivals of the Roman
Catholic Church. The pagentry is deceiving, as behind the colourful facade lies brutality
Injuries to horses and jockeys are frequent, especially round the
notorious San Martino corner. Jockeys can whip their rivals and other horses in an attempt
to get round first.
Proud Winner - © Michel Guntern, TravelNotes.
Siena held the earliest recorded palio in 1238.
Palli were also held in Verona, Padua, Ferrara, and Bologna (during
the Middle Ages), but in Siena the tradition continues every August 16 and July 2nd
(occasionally the 3rd, and sometimes in September).
Victory is Sweet
After the race, the winners go back to their contrade, and even the
horse enters the cathedral with its flag waving supporters.
It really is emotional, just watching the spontaneous scenes of love
and emotion unfold before your very eyes.
Siena - The Palio
A dedication to this ancient tradition from the commune di Siena; complete with audio and
How to make motorways interesting? The Italians do fine; with interactive maps, traffic
forecasts, and even suggestions of games to play when stuck in a jam.
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