Our network: Latest news | Guides | Hotels
Saturday 19 August 2017
Italiano English

The Days of the Palio

Email this page | Printable
Any visitor to Piazza del Campo during the days preceding a Palio will see the square completely transformed. The entire square is paved with blocks of tufa rock and the track around which the Palio is run is covered with brown earth. Wooden stalls are arranged around the square to seat the authorities and those who have walked in the ceremonial processions. The centre of the square is fenced in to contain the vast crowd that assembles to watch the race.

Preparations begin three days before each of the annual Palios. Since the track around the perimeter of the square is only able to contain ten horses, a system of lots governs which of the Contrade will actually be able to take part in the race. The lots are drawn at least three weeks before the race. The seven Contrade who do not race on one year are guaranteed to race the next and the remaining three lots are assigned to Contrade who did race the previous year.

The first official act concerning the Palio is the 1721 Bando del Collegio di Balia, which lays down the sixteen rules governing the race, from the times of the trials on the day before to the assignation of horses, the processions, the rules for the jockeys and the money awarded to the winning Contrada.
On June 29th (for the July 2nd Palio) and on August 13th (for the August 16th Palio), the horse breeders bring about thirty horses to the Entrone (the courtyard of the Podestà within the Palazzo Pubblico), where they are examined by veterinary doctors, registered and selected. The horses are then arranged in batteries and tested round the track for three days to see if they are suitable, after which the Capitani of each Contrada meet in the presence of the mayor to decide which ten horses will be included in the race.
The Contrade then draw lots to decide which horse will be assigned to which Contrada. Once the horses have been assigned they are tested with the jockey each successive day from 9am to 7pm. After the fifth trial, known as the prova generale, each of the Contrade included in the race organises a large propitiatory dinner.
On the morning of the Palio, at about 7am, the archbishop celebrates the Messa del Fantino Mass in the chapel adjacent to the Palazzo Pubblico, which is followed by the final trial run known as the provaccia. At this point the jockeys are registered, after which on no account – not even death – is the Contrada permitted to substitute its jockey. The horses then go to be blessed in the chapels of each single Contrada.
At 3pm the sunto, the great bell of the Torre del Mangia, begins to toll.

The ceremonial procession wends its way through the city streets and enters Piazza del Campo from the Curva del Casato, preceded by mounted Carabinieri.
At the shot of the mortaretto, the horses come out of the Entrone and line up at the starting line, known as the mossa. As soon as the last horse reaches the starting line the race begins and lasts for three rounds of the square (about 1 kilometre in total). The first horse to cross the finishing line is the winner, regardless of whether it is still mounted.
Towards the end of September or beginning of October it is tradition for the winning Contrada holds a victory dinner.
 

All'inizio

  General information
Town map 
Siena in the Renaissance 
Siena in the Middle Ages 
Siena in Antiquity 

  Transport in town
Town Map Siena 

  Transport out of town
Train services 

  Where to Stay
Historical Residences 
Hotels 
Farm Holidays and Country Houses  
Residence, Apartments 
Bed & Breakfasts 

  OFFERS & LAST MINUTE
Reservation Services Siena 
Last Minute Siena 

  Where to eat and drink
Disco Dancing 
Restaurants 
Pubs & Wine Bar 

  Education
Siena University 
University for Foreigners 

  Art and monuments
Palazzo Piccolomini and Palazzo delle Papesse 
Palazzo Chigi-Saracini 
Palazzo d’Elci degli Alessi 
Loggia della Mercanzia 
Palazzo Sansedoni 
Palazzo Chigi-Zondadari 
Fonte Gaia fountain 
Carthusian Monastery of Pontignano  
Forte di Santa Barbara 

  Art and religion
Church of Sant’Agostino 
The Duomo – The Cathedral of the Assunta 
Church of the Osservanza  
The Oratory of San Bernardino 
Church of San Francesco 
Short Biography of St Catherine of Siena  
St Catherine Sanctuary 
Church of S. Niccolò al Carmine 

  Museums and galleries
The Museo Civico 
Bologna-Buonsignori museum 
Accademia dei Fisiocritici 
I Musei Senesi 

  Art and tourist attractions
Cappella di Piazza 
The Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia 
Piazza del Campo 
The Montagnola Senese and the Fortified Village of Sovicille 
The Castles of Belcaro and Quattro Torri 

  The Palio of Siena
The Origins 
The July and August Palio 
The Contrade 
The Days of the Palio 
The Drappellone 
The Eve of the Palio 
The Corteo Storico Procession 
The Race 
The Patron Saint and Oratory of Each Contrada 
Weekly Appointments in each Contrada from April onwards 

  Sightseeing
Via di Città (formerly Via Galgaria), Siena’s Most Elegant Street 
Croce del Travaglio Place 
From Piazza del Campo to the Duomo Along Via di Città 
The Curves of Piazza del Campo 
Costarella dei Barbieri street 
Borgo d’Ovile 
The Terzo of Camollia – main streets 
Casato di Sopra e Casato di Sotto 
Terzo di San Martino district  
The Terzo di Città District - Via Stalloreggi, Via San Quirico 
The Terzo di Città District – The Pinacoteca Nazionale 

  What to see & do
Wedding in Siena 
Golf courses in Siena and Tuscany 
Wedding in Tuscany - Siena area 
San Casciano dei Bagni 
Chianciano Terme 
Bagni San Filippo 
Bagno Vignoni 
Rapolano Terme - Baths of San Giovanni and Baths of the Antica Querciolaia 
The Countryside around Siena and its Thermal Water Springs 

  Monte Amiata
Monte Amiata - nature tourism the year round 
SkiPass Monte Amiata 
WebCam sul Monte Amiata 
Meteo Monte Amiata 

  Specials - Out of town
Gift Ideas for traveling 
The Val d’Orcia and Its Main Towns 
Pienza - the old town centre 
Montepulciano - the old town centre 
San Quirico d’Orcia - the old town centre 
Montalcino and the Land of Brunello 
The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and the Crete 
The Crete Senesi 
Castellina in Chianti and the Via Chiantigiana Towards Siena 
Siena and Southern Chianti - from the Castle of Montalto to the Castle of Brolio and on to the Castle of Meleto 
The Chianti Hills - Monte Calvo, Monte Luco and Monte San Michele 
Cortona and the Valdichiana 
San Gimignano - The old town centre and its major sights 
The Val d’Elsa - Monteriggioni and Colle di Val d’Elsa 
Along the Old Via Francigena 

  Typical products
Segnala un'Attività