One of the eleven streets that lead into Piazza del Campo, Via del Casato is divided into two sections, the upper one called Via del Casato di Sopra and the lower one Via del Casato di Sotto. One of the city’s oldest streets, Via del Casato is the route by which the great procession in period costume, preceded by the banner and the Palio cart pulled by oxen, make their entrance into Piazza del Campo at the culmination of the ceremony that precedes the actual race of the Palio itself.
The street still maintains a distinctly 14th century flavour, thanks also to the works carried out along it between 1255 and 1285 when the city was under the rule of the so-called Governo dei Nove council of nine administrators. Recent excavations have unearthed a series of large tufa blocks underneath Via del Casato and it is thought that the street could run directly over the 12th century moat that once surrounded Siena.
A number of interesting buildings stand along Via del Casato di Sotto, which starts from the Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista, at the heart of the area administered by the Nobile Contrada dell’Aquila, and descends towards Piazza del Campo. These include the 16th century Palazzo Pannilini-Zuccantini, designed by Riccio, the Casa Mensini, the Fonte Serena (1359) and the 15th century Palazzo Ugurgieri, Palazzo Ottieri della Cicaia and Palazzo Chigi – the birthplace of Fabio Chigi who was to become Pope Alexander VII.