Palio di Siena

Il Palio delle Contrade - Il Palio di Siena


Even if there are few indirect testimonies regarding the origins of the first physiognomy of the Palio of Siena, or "Carriera" as the race is called, it is certain that this festival, the most popular and famous in the city, existed before 1310, the year in which a document of the General Council of the municipality consecrated the official institution of the Palio, to be traveled on August 16 in honor of the Blessed Virgin.

And if originally the Palio of mid-August was only the crowning of a popular festival, after the Battle of Montaperti in 1260, with the victory of the Sienese over the Florentines, it assumed an ever greater importance and also a political significance.

Immagine storica del Palio di SienaOnly in 1656, however, was officially recognized the establishment of a second Palio, the Palio of the Contrade, which was to be run on July 2 in honor of Our Lady of Provenzano. The Sienese districts, about eighty, then reduced until the present 17, had then as today not only a representative function, but their purpose was not exhausted exclusively in the preparation and implementation of the Palio. In fact, it is more in the minds of the people who live there than a simple folklore show or a historical costume re-enactment.

Palio di SienaToday as yesterday, the Palio is the feast of Siena and its 17 districts that compete with each other, enemies or allies, the coveted painted silk cloth: a kind of ritual whose Siena, from the time of the draw of the districts, reveals its truest face, to live with enthusiasm and nostalgic passion, a wonderful dream of past greatness. Massa, or the start of the race is the most exciting moment is complex of the Palio. The 10 jockeys, who are riding the beautiful Berber horses, are also excited and eager to try their hand at the race. As they leave the Entrone, the portal that leads into the courtyard of the podesta, they receive the ox's nerb that serves to incite the horse and beat the jockeys and horses adversaries. The participants start at the starting point: Massa, the canapo for the official start, does not touch the ground that already 10 horses have launched. The enthusiasm of the people who are part of the different districts is uncontainable and involves everyone.

The Palio of Siena, is normally held twice a year: on July 2 the Palio of Provenzano (in honor of Our Lady of Provenzano) and August 16 the Palio of the Assumption (in honor of Our Lady of the Assumption.

It may happen that to commemorate special events (such as the 1969 conquest of the Moon) or anniversaries of the city or national events considered relevant and relevant (such as the centenary of the Unification of Italy) the city of Siena may hold an extraordinary Palio between May and September, as happened the last time in 2000 to celebrate the new millennium.



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