The dramatic Palio horse race, held biannually in the city of Siena, is one of Italy's most loved and historic sporting event. Thousands of fans from all over Italy squeeze into the Piazza del Campo to watch the race and cheer on the horses, but no one gets more excited about the Palio than the Sienese themselves, for whom the Palio is not just a race, but an identity. In this 3-hour Siena Palio Tour we will explore the ins and outs of the Palio Siena, visiting all the spots relevant to the race, and learning how the race has come to define this city.
Our tour begins in the Piazza del Campo, where all the action takes place. Here our guide will take us through the basics of the race and, with archival images and video, recreate the Palio on site. We will learn about the contrade of Siena, the distinct and rivalrous quarters of the city that have traditionally fielded horses in the race and which identify themselves almost as cities within the city. We'll explore Siena through this lens and visit the meeting houses of several contrade, as well as other significant places tied to their history.
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Each contrade has its own church where, traditionally, children born in that contrada are baptized. We will also visit several a contrada museum where we will learn about the animal symbol adopted by each one. Any children on the tour will enjoy picking their favorite among the snail, owl, giraffe, and unicorn.
The Palio started over 350 years ago, and contemporary life throughout the year still tends to revolve around preparations and loyalty to the seventeen contrade, the historic neighborhoods of the Palio race that go head-to-head twice a year. The complicated rules and maze of traditions can only be successfully untangled by a native Sienese—thus, our docent for the day will be a proud member of the Torre contrada.
The colorful race is a perfect window for kids into Sienese and Tuscan traditions and culture. To learn more, read our interview with one of our docents who participates in the Palio in Siena
, Kristin Stasiowski.
If interested in a more exclusive experience, we can organize a visit to a stable outside of Siena to see one of the horses that has actually won the Palio. This unique opportunity will provide a memorable, hands-on experience for children and adults, alike. Please enquire about costs and logistics.