Today is the Palio day. What's the Palio?
The Palio of Siena with its exciting horse race is one of the most popular and well-known historic festivals in Italy. The contest to win the palio of Siena is a horse race run in Siena's fan-shaped main square, Piazza del Campo or Il Campo.
Siena is divided into 17 neighborhoods, or contrade, each with a rider. Ten contrade take part in the first race, July 2, chosen by a draw 20 days before the race. The other seven plus three from the July race compete August 16. Horses are assigned to the riders by a draw three days before the race.
Originally, there were about fifty-nine "Contrade"; now only seventeen remain, ten of which take part in the historical pageant and in the race at each Palio (seven by right and three drawn by lots).
The 17 Contrade are: Eagle, Snail, Wave, Panther, Forest, Tortoise, Owl, Unicorn, Shell, Tower, Ram, Caterpillar, Dragon, Giraffe, Porcupine, She-Wolf, Goose.
Each Contrada has its own unique emblem and colors and represents an area of the city. As one walks through the streets of Siena it is easy to know in which Contrada you currently are in by observing the flags and emblems displayed along the street. Much like street signs, corners often designate the entrance into a different Contrada with signs as the ones in the picture below.
The Palio horse race takes place twice a year, one the 2nd of July (Palio of Provenzano, in honor of the Madonna of Provenzano) and on August 16th (Palio of the Assumption, in honor of the Virgin Mary's Assumption).
During this special occasion, the main square in Siena, the Piazza del Campo, is prepared for the race as the ring around the square is covered with tuff clay.
Places where to stay:
All accommodation and hotels will be filled for months if not years before hand. To be in Siena during June and August, when the races are run, is expensive and needs to be prebooked. Try to reserve your rooms at least one year before hand, if you wish to stay in Siena during the summer months. All of the central buildings are full to capacity with people hanging out of the windows.So, this is also a good reason to stay in Florence throughout the days of the Palio, in order to have a less crowded situation, but being very close to Sienna as well.
Hotel Mario's is glad to give availabilities for these days. We are close to the central staion of Florence, Santa Maria Novella, very close to the Sita bus station where you could easily catch a bus to Siena every hour.
Hotel Mario's is a friendly and small hotel in the centre of the city of Florence.
You can contact us for booking a room:
Via Faenza 89,