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Palio's Story

Siena’s Palio, held twice a year on July 2nd and August 16th, features thrilling bareback horse races among the city’s districts, known as contrade, in honor of the Virgin Mary.

Competing contrade negotiate for mutual support, offering financial incentives for aid during the race, only payable upon victory. Winning is paramount in the Palio; coming second is deemed a disgrace. Leaders of each contrada, the Capitani, strike these deals while aware of rival contrade strategies to impede their success. Preceding the main event, six trials, Prove, help horses acclimate to jockeys, the track, and a unique starting method where nine horses position within ropes while the tenth starts running.

On Palio day, contrada comparsas, once Siena’s military divisions, don their colors. Ceremonial blessings for horses occur in contrada chapels, followed by paying homage to Monte dei Paschi (Siena’s bank), the Nobles, the Bishop, and the Hospital. The event’s visual allure is heightened by captivating flag twirling.

Palio's Story
Palio's Story - Palio's Pizza & Italian Grill