The Palio di Siena is practically horse race unique in its kind where the historic districts compete and challenge each other. The race includes 3 laps around the track that surrounds the square, which is covered with a thick layer of tufa dust, so that the horses can run more easily. Only one is the district that comes out victorious, after a race that takes place in a wild way and often without reserves of low blows. In the pure spirit of the Contrada, the party that follows is on the one hand a way of celebrating the victory and on the other a way to mock the adversaries. Arriving second is considered worse than arriving last.
The Palio di Siena is a historic competition of clear medieval style, which takes place twice a year and attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. Its uniqueness and its spectacular nature make this event the most important historical event in Italy. The Palio has been running continuously for more than 100 years, so we can not speak of a historical re-enactment, but of a real popular event, felt as never before by the participants and by the public that follows it. It was established as a Sienese festival only at the beginning of the seventeenth century as an event organized by the Contrade participating in it, later around 1656 it was organized directly by the Municipality. At the beginning only the Palio di Provenzano (July 2) was organized, and the winning Contrada could organize the Palio of August 16th (of the Assumption) at its discretion. So it happened that only the Palio of July was raced. Only since 1802 also the Palio of the Assumption was organized by the Municipality.