The Palio of Siena event is your chance to experience Medieval Siena traditions today!
Siena palio races will take you back to Italy seventeenth century and add a good portion of adrenaline to your visit to Tuscany.
Siena palio (il palio di Siena - in Italian) is truly one of most interesting festivals in Italy and in Europe gathering thousands of tourists every year.
Jump down to Palio of Siena 2012 Dates, News & Contrade
Palio Horse Race
Siena palio are horse races held in Siena since 1656 (some sources give 14th century as a starting date). Although first Siena races were done with bulls and even with donkeys, later a definite switch to horses was made.
Palio horse race participants are chosen by a lot held in spring which allows only ten different Contradas to take part in palio of Siena. A certain number of Contrade have a right to participate in Palio "di obbligo" - for sure, without being selected by a lottery.
Contrada of Siena is a kind of historical local municipal government (neighborhoods) having a very long history. Siena is divided into Contradas for 800 years.
Initially there were 59 Contradas (Contrade) in Siena and there are left only 17 till nowadays. Each Conrad has its own symbol, a flag and a name:
How are Siena Palio horses selected?
Palio horses are selected a few days before the event. All the horses must go through the test run (the tratta) in order to select 10 best horses for Palio races. All the 10 horses selected by a trial get a number written behind their ear.
Palio of Siena is summer event in Tuscany held twice. Siena Palio dates are always July 2 and August 16.
A few days before the Palio Siena piazza del Campo gets prepared for the show. The unique half-round shape of piazza del Campo perfectly allows placing the visitors in the middle and the race participants along the side.
Palio of Siena 2012 Dates & Contrade
Do you know which Contrade will participate in Palio 2012?
These Contrade will for sure take part in Palio on July 2, 2012
Eagle, Giraffe, Unicorn, Shell, Wave, Forest
These Contrade will for sure take part in Palio races in August 16, 2012
Owl, Dragon, Wave, Forest, Tortoise, Ram
July Trials start on June 29, and August Trials start on August 13.
The other participating Contrade will be selected in May 2012 (for July Palio) and in July 2012 (for August Palio race).
We will keep you updated.
UPDATED! - On May 27, 2012 the following contrade have been selected for participating in il Palio of 2 July, 2012:
Snail, Dragon, Tortoise, Caterpillar
UPDATED! - And the Winner is...
On Palio of 2 July, 2012 the Winer is contrade Wave (Onda) which haven't won since far July 1995!
The Palio and its trials are run clockwise, when most of other horse races are counter-clockwise.
Contradas can not choose the horse for races. The horses for Palio are selected by a lottery.
If a horse get injured during the trials of Palio the Contrade doesn't get another horse and has to be pulled out of Palio races.
And the funniest Siena Palio fact, in my opinion, is that the Palio itself lasts only 90 seconds!
And remember, when visiting Palio of Siena, if you are planning to seat in the middle of the square (Piazza del Campo) it gets very hot there in July and August.
Although the Palio itself is only 90 seconds long the parades and shows are held all day. Be careful with taking middle square places especially when traveling with babies and children.
Terrace seats are available but are normally fully booked long before the summer event in Siena. Be sure to order your tickets well in advance.
Take the most exciting Tuscany guided Siena tours departing from Florence Italy!
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See more best guided Siena Tours that have been pre-selected especially for you!
This photo of Piccolo Hotel Il Palio is courtesy of TripAdvisor
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