Il Palio di Siena

2nd July & 16th August - Siena

On the 2nd July and 16th August every year, an unique horse race takes place in the Piazza del Campo in Siena, one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. Every Sienese person takes this race extremely seriously, each area of the city is part of a 'Contrada' a faction of the town of which there are 17 in total. In the days leading up to the race there are processions with drumbeating, flagwaving, all in medieval style costumes, and trial races. Then the great day arrives, the horses are blessed in the churchesl and they then line up for the bareback race, for which they run 3 times around the square. The winner is given the Palio, a ceremonial banner which is then proudly displayed in the Museum of the winning 'Contrada' along with much excitement and celebration.