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What you should know about Palio di Siena

Home > News > What you should know about Palio di Siena
Postata il: 28 June 2016

What summer would be like without the Palio? The most important event in Siena is coming, the Palio of the Madonna of Provenzano is held on July 2nd, and as usual the race will be preceded by the historical procession that begins in the afternoon from Piazza Duomo and continues through the alleys of center.

To make the most of this special event, it’s recommended to get prepared: for this reason, we provide you with some useful information on the Palio which will take place on Saturday, July 2nd.

Which Contrada will join to the Palio

Palio di Siena – Provenzano Credits by Janus Kinase

The rules of this historic horse race (held for the first time in Piazza del Campo around 1632, but the origins dated back to the XIII century) state that 10 Contrada out of 17 join each race.
7 which didn’t participate in the previous year’s Palio (in this case on July 2015), plus 3 chosen by drawing lots. This year the participating contrada are: Caterpillar, She-Wolf, Dragon, Giraffe, Snail, Eagle, Crested Porcupine, Tortoise, Goose and Seashell, in Piazza entry order.

When to go to Siena to follow the Palio

It’s important to know that this event takes place over several days, more precisely, from June 28th to July 2nd, since there is the rehearsal and the blessing of horses and jockey.
In Piazza del Campo you can watch both the test races and the Palio for free, while the tribunes arranged around the Piazza, the windows and balconies overlooking the Piazza are available for a fee.
Between the Contrada exist rivalries that invest Senese people with passion and pride: on the next Palio will run two pairs of rivals, Crested Porcupine-Lupa and Snail-Tartuca.

Lupa Credits by Janus Kinase

Saturday will begin early in the morning with the Mass of the jockey, celebrated at 7:45 am in the Chapel adjacent to the Town Hall, followed by “Provaccia” (a test race) in Piazza del Campo at 9:00 am.
We suggest you to don’t miss the procession, which from 4:30 pm onwards takes place through the alleys, and the race itself that begins after the procession entrance in Piazza at 5:20 pm.
Belonging to a Contrada is an essential value for each Senese, so it’s appropriate to follow the Palio as guests, aware that only the “Contradaioli” can enjoy this competition as the highlight of the entire year.
For tourists this is a chance to appreciate the most genuine spirit of Siena and being carried away in a whirlwind of emotions.

More historical information can be found on our previous post dedicated to the Palio, while for the latest updates we suggest to visit

Try to rationally describe the Palio is perhaps impossible, because as written by Mario Luzi “no sociological, historical or anthropological interpretation could explain it”. We just have to feel it and be ready to savor every moment of these magical days.

Credits foto di anteprima: Janus Kinase


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