Looking for the best way to enjoy the famous Siena Palio, the historical horse race between ten of Siena’s seventeen Contrade (wards or districts) which takes place twice a year on July 2 and on August 15, the feast day of the Virgin Mary? We’ll create your personalized Palio of Siena package!
Witness the passion that suffuses the Palio and the events surrounding it. Experience the thrill of finding yourself between history and legend, earth and fire, the sacred and the profane, medieval and Renaissance pageantry. Take a seat on the grandstand, relax, enjoy the sun, the parade, and the race from the best of vantage points. The Palio of Siena is an unforgettable Italian experience!
The Palio events include the day before the actual race, dress rehearsal day (“prova generale, ” July 1 and August 15). A final preparatory race is held and watched by thousands with almost as much excitement. Celebrations follow the dress rehearsal race. In particular, the dinner-event called “Cena della Prova Generale,” which is based on traditional Tuscan dishes and wines is an event not to be missed. During the feast, speeches from the captain, the priest, and the jockey of the Contrada are followed by music and song.
On the next day, the actual Palio day (July 2 and August 16), the final preparations for the Palio begin. The most exciting events start in the early afternoon with the famous and sacred “Blessing of the Horse.” These ceremonies take place inside the churches of the various Contrade taking part in the race. Then, the "Historical Procession" (“la Passeggiata Storica”), a parade in the special medieval costumes of the Palio, is followed by a crowd of Contradaioli (citizens of the Contrada) and visitors. Then, finally, the horses enter into the Piazza del Campo for the main Palio race. The horses run three laps of the piazza, accompanied by a never-ending and anxious cheer of emotion from every spectator there. Excited cheering then turns into thunderous applause as the crowd congratulates the winner. Festive dinners conclude these most exciting events, while the winning Contrada will celebrate all year long.
Choose among the exciting events, or come be a part of all of it - the Dress Rehearsal Race, a Dress Rehearsal Dinner, the “Blessing of the Horse” ceremony, the “Passeggiata Storica.” Watch the actual Palio race overlooking the sharp San Martino bend, the most difficult, dreaded and dangerous part of the course. Celebrate together with the Sienese during the Palio Dinner after the race... .
Ask us, and we’ll create your personalized Palio of Siena package!
Curious about history and background of the Palio of Siena? Check out the DETAILS section!
A Timeless Challenge – Living History
The Palio is a life-filled event, which the entire Sienese population participates in spontaneously. The Palio revives ancient passions and unleashes antagonisms. Come to Siena, and get a glimpse of a reality where tensions are never appeased, bonds remain unbroken, memories do not dissolve. The Palio events belong to a heraldic tradition that has continued through the ages - and you can be a part of it!
The Palio, which dates back to 1644 when the first horse race took place, revolve around the picturesque and evocative Piazza del Campo at the heart of Siena.
The city is divided into seventeen Contrade (wards or districts). Every Contrada has its own church with a building annex that houses the legacy of this ward: mementos and relics, victory banners, costumes of the Comparsa (those who represent the ward in the parade), flags, archives, and other objects concerning the life of the Contrada. Of the seventeen Contrade, only ten participate in the race today.
The three rehearsal days preceding each race (July 2 and August 16) are the high point of the social life of each Contrada. Rehearsals are followed by celebratory dinners in enchanting corners of the city. Two thousand guests, on average, each wearing the colors of his Contrada, attend the dinners . Emotions run high as the Sienese and their guests share these meals, uniting delicious food with their hopes for the race.
The day of the Palio horse race starts in the early afternoon with the famous and sacred “Blessing of the Horse.” These ceremonies take place inside the churches of the various Contrade that will take part in the race. Then, the "Historical Procession" (la Passeggiata Storica), a parade in the special medieval costumes of the Palio, is followed by a crowd of Contradaioli (citizens of the Contrada) and visitors.
Though the horse race itself lasts less than a minute, the adrenaline high experienced by all is phenomenal. The departure (La Mossa) can by quite lengthy, filled with tactical moves. The Fantin (jockey) who succeeds in reading the la Mossa correctly may well carry the victory...
The celebrations begin immediately after the race - the representatives of the Contrade receive the Palio (the winner's banner) and take it to the Basilica di Provenzano (July Palio) or to the Duomo (August Palio) to sing the Te Deum of gratitude.
Witness the passion that suffuses the Palio and the events surrounding it. Experience the thrill of finding yourself between history and legend, earth and fire, the sacred and the profane, medieval austerity and Renaissance splendor. The Palio of Siena is an unforgettable Italian experience!
Prices and reservations available upon request. Ask us, and we’ll create your personalized Palio of Siena package!