We are almost there: 2nd July is almost upon us and in the town the atmosphere is full of excitement. In Siena, it is the time for the yearly edition of the “Palio”, a historical representation on horseback, that attracts visitors and tourists from all over the world, and is laden with very local features. This traditional yearly event in Siena is greatly loved and inhabitants will cheer along his or her “contrada” – the neighbourhood represented by horsemen racing horses at high speed in the main square.
The “Palio” on 2 July
Each year there are two editions of the “Palio” –one in July is in honour of the “Madonna of Provenzano” and one on 16 August named after the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, namely the “Assumption Palio” to mark the Catholic festivity.
The atmosphere in the town is exhilarating as the date gets closer. Already on 27 and 28 June it is possible to watch the horse and jockey rehearsals. The jockey will only be attributed a horse with a draw on 29 June and that is when the neighbourhoods will at last know which horse they need to back in the hope of winning. The jockeys and the horses will get to know each other better on 30 June and 1 July. So on 2 July, the day of the race, the traditional programme dictates that jockeys must be registered in the town hall before a church service and the blessing of the horses that take part in the “Palio”.
The historic pageantry in the streets of the town is not to be missed and it will end with the notorious “move” at 7.30pm, the official starting time for the “Palio”.
In order to watch the race you simply need to reach the “Campo”, i.e. the main square open to all and free of charge.
Where to stay: an important issue that cannot be ignored
Often hotels are completely full because of the very high number of visitors. The city is buzzing with excitement and not ideal for anyone wishing to relax before the event.
A great solution would be to book a long week-end in the Chianti hills, in the recently refurbished 18th century manor – the Relais & Spa Vignale.
You will be able to enjoy a few relaxing days taking advantage of the outdoor swimming pool and the warm sun. You can revel in delicious cuisine and taste our specialties sitting on one of the hotel’s panoramic terraces. And, your body and your mind can also benefit from a pleasant walk or cycling, admiring the beauty of the landscape and the Tuscan hills, or enjoying a relaxing massage in our Spa. The Relais Vignale is the ideal starting point to explore the surrounding villages and famous art cities: Florence, San Gimignano, Pisa, Lucca, Arezzo or Pienza.
You can of course watch the “Palio” sitting on a sofa at home, but experiencing it live is enthralling and exciting. For this reason we advise you to be at the event in person, and maybe take advantage of a nice long week-end in Tuscany and stay at our Relais & Spa.