The tradition of Palio di Siena, the most popular and spectacular historic horse race, is kept alive through its two annual editions, taking place on July 2 — aka “Palio di Provenzano” and August 16 — aka “Palio dell’Assunta“.
Those who are new to Palio di Siena could find helpful a short description of the Contradas.
The Contradas are districts into which the town of Siena is divided. In the ancient times they were institutions each having their own government, coat of arms, emblems, official representatives, and patron Saints.
Nowdays, of the seventeen contradas, ten — seven by right and three drawn, take part in the historical pageant and in the race at each Palio. Their names: Eagle, Snail, Wave, Panther, Forest, Tortoise, Owl, Unicorn, Shell, Tower, Ram, Caterpillar, Dragon, Giraffe, Porcupine, She-Wolf, Goose.
There are huge rivalries among the contradas. And during the race, taking place in the main Siena’s square — Piazza del Campo, all is allowed, from crashing into a rival’s horse to hitting other horses with a whip.
Below a video of a past edition of Palio.