The Palio di Siena
The Sienese Palio delle Contrade is one of the most famous, beautiful and deeply loved Italian popular celebrations, which has summerized and developed, to the highest point, the characteristics both of a religious and of a civil festivity. If you want to take part in the Palio, obviously as audience, you will surely attend a charming show. It is a historical and cultural revival, that reaches its climax in a wild horse race, in which the proud and the passionate competitiveness of the Contrade (town districts) achieve their realization and exaltation. These singular institutions, born in the 15th century, are today represented by the 17 neighbourhoods of Siena, according to the territorial boundaries fixed by a proclamation ban issued on 7th January 1730. The Palio takes place twice in a year: in July the 2nd (Palio di Provenzano) and in August the 16th (Palio dell'Assunta).
Every Institution has its own seat , its own church (separate and independent from the parish one), a Museum with the won Palios and it is governed by a Seggio (Council), elected by the people and controlled by a Prior, in turn partnered with a Captain, who has full powers during the race. The Contrade, situated in the three town’s terzieri (districts) of the city, differ one from another in their colours. The actual festival begins for days before the beginning giving the ten contrada by chance, and with the extremely and picturesque procession. It consists of a parade, in historical costume, of mace-bearers, trumpeters, bandasmen, grooms, and standard-bearers, in addition to characters representing the ancient rulers of the city; the Capitain of the People, the Podestà, the Banner-bearers, the Chief Magistrate, the Biccherna Superintendents and others.