Palio Atmosphere !
Want to feel the excitement and drama of the Palio, but would rather not be closed into the centre of the town square with a thousand other people for hours under the blazing sun?
Head to the prove or try-outs in the days before. The days that lead up to the famous Sienese bareback horse race are called the 3 days of Palio. On each of the 3 days there are good opportunities to see the horses – and photograph, or just to enjoy the atmosphere, the excitement of the imminent event. The whole town will be decked out with flags and the residents will be wearing their contrada scarves everywhere they go. It’s a really good time to visit the city.
Boo to anyone who tells you to avoid the city during the days of palio!
There is a morning try out on all 3 days, and on the third and final evening is the actual race. The Sienese are so crazy about the Palio; it’s in no way a tourist event. This is a Tuscany event that is legendary – for a reason.
The morning practices are busy enough – but not so busy as those in the evenings, when there are also more palio related events being held – such as the contrada suppers (where you will see the Sienese dining in huge number at long tables in the city streets).
The morning try outs are also probably best choice for photographers, as well as for families with children who might be keen to experience something of the palio atmosphere in comfort.
If you are lucky enough to be staying at Siena House during the days of palio, don’t hesitate ! Head to the City to be in the main square early, such as 8.30 am. Siena City is only half an hour away and an easy drive, we will guide you to the perfect parking place with only a short stroll right to the heart of the action. Around 9 am you’ll be closed in to the centre of the square and can’t exit for about half an hour. A seat in the stands costs about 5 Euro. We like to sit close the the commune building where you will hear large groups of children singing. The horses appear only briefly, making 2-3 laps, but are a beautiful sight. Once you are free to leave however, don’t just exit – head towards the black and white pole (the start of the actual race) and pause to watch the horses exit, being led by the groom, making one or two turns as they await the contrada members, who assemble behind them and exit behind the horses, sometimes solemnly, sometimes singing…
Don’t miss the morning Palio try-outs. See the horses, a little ‘racing’ and a lot of the ritual associated with the Palio. We love it !
Siena House is a truly boutique hotel and luxurious villa home base from which to tour and experience Tuscany.
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