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Wednesday 24 July 2024
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Sapori Tipici Toscani
Sapori Tipici Toscani
Sapori Tipici Toscani
Sapori Tipici Toscani

The Race

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On the day of the Palio Siena comes alive with a thousand colours, flags and people who come here from all over the world, not to mention the excitement of the local inhabitants supporting their Contrade.

By the tufa track laid down on the Piazza del Campo, stands the verrocchio, a winch with a flag that is operated by a pedal. It was invented in 1838 by Tiberio Bichi Borghesi. The person who operates the verrocchio is the mossiere, who is seated nearby. On the opposite side of the square is the mortaretto that signals with a shot that the track should be freed when the horses are about to enter, as well as when there has been a false start and when the race is finished. Next to the mortaretto there is the so-called bandierino, a small flag with the black and white coat of arms of the city, marking the arrival point of the Palio.

Once the magnificent procession, with its over 700 participants, has entered the square, a shot from the mortaretto signals the entrance of the ten horses, mounted bareback. Each jockey is armed with a nerbo, a special kind of crop, with his head protected by a metal helmet to fend off the blows of his adversaries. The contestants line up at the canapi starting ropes according to the lots drawn only a few minutes previously.

The tension is enormous and any Senese can testify that victory can only be gained by an equal combination of the jockey’s skill, the horse’s strength, and luck. The start of the race, known as la mossa, is therefore of fundamental importance. A moment’s hesitation or the badly positioned horse of an adversary can mean the bitterest of defeats.
At this point the mossiere is handed an envelope containing the names of the first three horses that should enter and he calls out the order, with the horses entering one by one. Once nine of the horses are lined up in order at the ropes, the tenth horse enters at a gallop and the ropes drop, thereby signalling the start. The race is run clockwise for three turns round the square, and is over in roughly one and a half minutes. A loud shot from the mortaretto signals that the race is over.

Quite often the winner of the Palio is decided at the infamous San Martino curve, the most dangerous section of the circuit in that it combines a sharp curve preceded by a long downhill section.
Once the winning horse has crossed the finishing line, the members of the winning Contrada flock into the square to take hold of the Palio, known also as il cencio, a finely painted silk banner. The Palio will be displayed in the museum of the winning Contrada, where celebrations continue into the night and the winning horse is feted by the crowd.


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

  Transport in town
Map of Hotels in Siena 
Town Map Siena 

  Transport out of town
Train services 

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

Reservation Services Siena 
Last Minute Siena 

  Where to eat and drink
Disco Dancing 
Pubs & Wine Bar 

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 

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
Typical Tuscan flavours 
Oleum Evo online selling 
Sapori Tipici Italiani buy online now 
il Prosciutto Cotto