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»» Palio of Siena: Mix of Sacred and Profane

The second Palio of Siena is taking place, on August 16.
The Palio of Siena is known as being the most famous historical horse race. It takes place in the Tuscan hilltop town of Siena each year on July 2 and August 16. This horserace dedicated to the Virgin Mary, dating back to the 13th century,  is a perfect mix of sacred and profane, regarded as ‘sacrosanct‘ by the local residents.

Jockeys — ‘Fantini‘ in Italian, dressed in medieval costume, ride bareback on horses a 90-second race around Siena’s main square, the Piazza del Campo. They represent 10 of the city’s 17 contrade, or districts, by competing for a painted silk flag — the Palio. There are huge rivalries among the contrade.

The winner is the first horse to complete three laps of the square even if the it arrives at the finishing post without a rider.
All is allowed in this race: jockeys are allowed crashing into a rival’s horse, even to whack their opponents or hitting other horses with a whip.

All that happens in the main Siena’s square, Piazza Del Campo, a large shell-shaped square dominated by a 300 feet tower, the 14th century Mangia Tower.  And in the surroundings of Siena, the wonderful landscapes of typical Tuscan countryside with its hills, sunflowers and Chianti‘s vineyards.

See Siena and Chianti area on the map.

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