"The Palio left me a cutin the soul shaped like a smile" (Tripolino, jockey)
The wonderful city of Siena is getting ready for its centenary tradition: the Palio. The Palio is not just a horse race or a tourist attraction, it is a way of life.
The event takes place on 2nd July and 16th August each year, days in which the10 horses assigned to the Contrade have to complete three times the lap of the suggestive Piazza del Campo, and only one of them will have the glory of winning the horse race, filling the hearts of “contradaioli” with joy. The winning “Contrada”, a city-ward, is awarded the “Palio”, a silk “drappellone” (a banner) hand-painted by an artist chosen from time to time, which is revealed to the public only a few days before therace. This year the “drappellone” was painted by the artist Laura Brocchi, who inserted in every centimeter of fabric a reference to her life and her memories.
The Palio is an essential part of the life of the Sienese people, divided into 17 Contrade, each of which corresponds to a portion of the territory inside the city walls. The ancient partition of the city consists of three sections, called “Terzi”: each one has something wonderful to offer to the visitors who decide to get lost through the alleyways of the enchanting city. In the Terzo di Città, the oldest, we can find the Palazzo Chigi Saracini, which was important during the victory in the ‘battle of Montaperti’ against Florence in 1260, the Santa Maria della Scala Museum, former hospital built along the Via Francigena in order to help the pilgrims and the magnificent cathedral, particularly famous for its beautifully decorated floor. The Terzo di Camollia is important because the northern zone of Siena faces the city’s eternal enemy, Florence, and therefore it was the most protected. Rich in wonderful churches, like the Basilica of Santa Maria in Provenzano (to whom the 2nd July Palio is dedicated) or the Basilica of San Francesco, it is also characterized by the presence of two splendid historic buildings belonged to wealthy bankers: Palazzo Tolomei and Rocca Salimbeni. Finally, the Terzo di San Martino, along the Via Francigena, has as its prominent elements the extraordinary and unique Piazza del Campo, with its characteristic shell-shape, the Torre del Mangia, climbing to the top of which you can enjoy a spectacular view, and the Public Palace, where you ca find many artworks and the Rinnovati Theatre.
Strolling through the streets of the medieval city, a World Heritage Site since 1995, is a endless emotion; rich in hidden beauties and suggestive views, it is a quiet town and consequently ideal for those who want to distance themselves from the chaos of big cities. Surrounded by the beautiful Tuscan countryside, with its green hills and vineyards, Siena is full of magnificent farmhouses, historic and elegant villas, beautiful unique apartments and typical cottages where you can enjoy a luxury stay.
Absolutely not to be missed!