The Palio of Siena

A race that lasts less than 2 minutes, is the subject of debates and competitions throughout the year and is a source of strong discussion between men and women: it is the Palio, the largest and most important festival of the Sienese tradition. Siena is divided into seventeen districts, or areas of the city. The inhabitants of Siena are first inhabitants of a district, then inhabitants of the city. Each district clashes with the others during the Palio and competitive rivalry is an integral part of the atmosphere of the months preceding the event. Ten districts are selected for each race, each of them is assigned a horse, which will run in the Piazza del Campo race, while thousands of people, spectators and participants, transform the square into a living sea. There are two Palio races all summers: one on July 2nd and the other on August 16th. The celebrations begin three days before each Palio, even if the trepidation for the event becomes evident for a week before. During these days there are banquets, parades, horse blessings and celebrations of all kinds: events such as the assignment of the horse to the ten districts, the first, second, third and fourth round, the General Test followed by dinner follow one another of the General Test for each district. The inhabitants of Siena wear the colors of their own district and music and songs can be heard at any time of day or night. On the day of the Palio the spectators begin to crowd the square starting from late morning, determined to bear the sun, the warm and the crowd, just to be witnesses of this great event. The most composed people will have paid to enjoy the ride from the seats placed around the square, which are usually sold out eight months before the event. The square is closed a short time before the start of the Palio and, after any false starts, the horses leave and it's all over, even before the dust has subsided. The winning district then celebrates for weeks, with banquets and discussions, while the losing quarters can only hope to be able to win the next race, with more preparation and luck.

The wonder for those who attend this traditional race, is not unusual, because it captures the inhabitants of the city: the Palio is a unique phenomenon of its kind, which arouses strong emotions, which the inhabitants of Siena consider part of themselves, being a deeply rooted tradition: an experience to do at least once in your life.

 
PROGRAM OF THE PALIO OF SIENA (2nd July and 16th August)

Every year the Palio program remains the same, with the dates of the first race of the Palio always from 29 June to 2 July, and the dates of the second race of the Palio again from 13 to 16 of August. Obviously there are small celebrations, dinners and ceremonies during the week preceding the official date of the Palio race.
FIRST RACE OF THE PALIO OF SIENA - JULY

June 29th
    12:00 allocation of horses to the districts
    19:45 First Test in June

June 30th
    9:00 the Second Test
    17:00 the Procession of the Votive Candle
    19:45 the Third Test

01 July
    9:00 the Fourth Test
    19:45 the General Test
    Dinner of the General Test

2nd of July
    7:30 Mass by Fantino in the Chapel of Piazza del Campo
    9:00 Last Test, known as "Provaccia"
    In the early afternoon, around 2.30 pm, the blessings of horses and jockeys are held in the churches of each district participating in the Palio
    16:00 the Piazza del Campo closes
    The only access to the Piazza is from Via Duprè until 18:30, when Piazza del Campo is definitively closed.
    17:00 parade of the historical procession
    19:20 RUN
    After the victory: Te deum of thanksgiving at the Church of Piazza Provenzano

SECOND RACE OF PALIO DI SIENA - AUGUST

August 13th
    12:00 allocation of horses to the districts
    19:15 the First Test

August 14th
    9:00 the Second Test
    17:00 Procession of the Votive Candle
    19:15 the Third Test

August 15th
    9:00 the Fourth Test
    19:15 the General Test
    Dinner of the General Test

August 16th
    7:30 Mass by Fantino in the Chapel of Piazza del Campo
    9:00 Last Test, known as "Provaccia"
    In the early afternoon, around 2.00 pm, the blessings of horses and jockeys are held in the churches of each district that participates in the Palio
    16:00 the Piazza del Campo closes
    The only access to the Piazza is from Via Duprè until 18:00, when Piazza del Campo is definitively closed.
    17:00 parade of the historical procession
    19:00 RUN
    After the victory: Te deum di Thanksgiving in the Cathedral of Siena



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