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The Palio

Siena, Italy

The Palio

If like me, you have no clue what this is, its just one of the biggest yearly horse races in Italy. An unbelievable amount of tradition and pomp go into making this race such a spectacle. It starts from the moment your born if your family belongs to one of the contradas. And preparations for race day start weeks before, culminating in all day festivities on the day of the Palio.

We left the house around 8am to head to Sienna so we could secure parking and see all the race preparations. Barbara took us all around Sienna showing us where all the major landmarks and contradas were so we could watch the groups getting ready for the race. Before the race the contradas get their parade horse and members all decked out in medieval costumes...im assuming its the same traditional garb their contradas actually wore in the middle ages.

Afterwards they parade to the contradas home chapel to have their jockey and race horse blessed.

Then all the contradas join together in the streets, drummers playing, flags being tossed and all the members crowding behind their group.

This is not something done for tourists,this isnt still put on merely for the sake of amusement and history. The Siennese live and breath for the palio, spend untold hours and resources outfitting their group and hosting banquets and events throughout the year. That said, they reeaaaaalllllly get into it, and once things start getting under way it gets crazy in the square. Wayyyy more people then is probably safe squeeze into the square before its sealed off for the parade and finally the race horses to enter.

After the horses get lined up, which is no small feat since they use a rope starting line and no barricades, and several false starts, the race is under way. The course is pretty treacherous for a horse and several usually stumble or fall, the one James was routing for lost its jockey on the first loop. Someone wins but you usually cant tell who because you cant really see the track through all the people, so you head to the closest bar to watch the replay on TV. The winning contrada parades around town getting piss drunk all night and everyone else being tired as hell goes home.

Oh and the prize for winning....

That and bragging rights. Each contrada has a museum to house all the Palios its won. Heres a link i found to a site which has an archive of all the palio flags back to the 1600's, each desgined by a diffrent local artist.

Peace yall ;)

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on August 22, 2008 from Siena, Italy
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged Siena, Italy, Tuscany and ThePalio

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dude......... what an awesome and unique cultural experience!

permalink written by  Wes on August 29, 2008

I know, you said don't ask and thats why I must. What is a prum. You said you would put up with sawdust toilets to live in a house like trove. What do you like so much about it? We were telling the family about the sawdust toilets by the way. When Laura asked what one is Aunt Della explained its a litter box for people. Very cute. Login is the cutest baby you ever saw. It is not so much physical apperence that makes me say that but his charm. At three months he has the most engaging smile I ever saw and understands just when to use it.

permalink written by  Marcette on September 2, 2008

Prum = Plum. Just something we started saying cause it sounds goofy. :)
I'll let Amanda answer why she likes it here so much when she gets back to this.
Me personally, it would be due to the quality of life here. Enjoying the world around you and what you're doing in it is more important than what you are wearing, if your too fat or skinny, or what you own. Plus they have siesta's.

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on September 3, 2008

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