The Palio di Siena is a Unique Horse Race
The Italian horse race the 𝐏𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐨 𝐝𝐢 𝐒𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐚 is 𝐚n historical 𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐞 that dates back many centuries in Tuscany.
Jockeys ride bareback without a saddle or stirrups, dressed in medieval costume around the Piazza del Campo. The Piazza is prepared with a thick layer of tuff clay laid around the track before the race is held. The race is three laps of the piazza and can last up to 90 seconds with the first horse over the line declared the winner.
When does the horse race take place?
The Palio di Siena horse race takes place twice a year, the first race is on the 2nd of July (Palio of Provenzano, in honor of the Madonna of Provenzano) and on August 16th (Palio of the Assumption, in honor of the Virgin Mary’s Assumption).
How many Contrades take part?
In the Palio, the various Sienese “contrade”, or areas in which the city is divided, challenge each other in the passionate horse race in the heart of the city in the Piazza del Campo. The 17 Contrade’s which still exist today are: the Eagle, Snail, Wave, Panther, Forest, Tortoise, Owl, Unicorn, Shell, Tower, Ram, Caterpillar, Dragon, Giraffe, Porcupine, She-Wolf and the Goose. Only ten horses can compete in the local contrades colours, representing ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards.
Who wins the race?
The Palio di Siena horse race is won by the horse who represents his Contrada, and not by the jockeys. The winner is the first horse to cross the finish line. A horse can still win without its rider (a condition known as cavallo scosso).
The winning horse is awarded a banner of painted silk, or palio, which is hand-painted by a different artist for each race.
The locals go crazy with excitement after the victory, and the winning contrada continues a month-long celebration for the winning ward.
If you are thinking of visiting the Palio di Sienna horse race in Italy why not combine this with a riding holiday or an equestrian event in Italy.
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