The Palio is the banner, decorated with an image of the Virgin Mary, which is presented to the winner of the race. The 17 "contrade" or suburbs into which the city is divided compete in the race, wearing their traditional costumes and carrying their emblems. Each "contrada" has a name, a banner and a church of its own.
The actual festival begins with the traditional, picturesque procession. It consists of a parade, in historical costume, of mace-bearers, trumpeters, bandsmen, grooms, and standard-bearers, in addition to characters representing the ancient rulers of the city; the Captain of the People, the "Podestà", the Banner-bearers, the Chief Magistrate, the "Biccherna" Superintendents and others. During the competition the competitors race around the city's shell-shaped central square at breakneck speed surrounded by cheering supporters.
After the race, the winning contrada marches to the church of Santa Maria in Provenzano (or, in August, to the Cathedral) and subsequently the festivities continue throughout the night in the neighbourhood and through the streets of the main part of the city.
There are two basic options for attending the race: you can stand in the Piazza free of charge. This will give you a great opportunity to mix with the locals.
The second option is to purchase tickets for the reserved seating and standing areas. By law, most of the numbered seats must be offered to local residents meaning that there is an extremely limited supply. Tickets are sold directly by the shops around Piazza del Campo.
The excitement and passion that takes over the city during the race makes this an incredible event in Italy, one not to be missed.For further information about Palio tickets or our beautilful accommodation in Siena and surrounds please contact us.