IL PALIO - horse race in Siena, Italy

by Susanne Risse [Hidden Trails] 06/08/2011

Going to be near Sienna in July or August? Don't miss Il Palio!
The Palio di Siena (known locally simply as Il Palio) is a horse race held twice each year on July 2 and August 16 in Siena, Italy, in which ten horses and riders, dressed in the appropriate colors, represent ten of the seventeen Contradas, or city wards.

The exciting race, in which the jockeys ride mixed-breed horses bareback, involves circling the Piazza del Campo, on which a thick layer of dirt has been laid, three times and usually last no more than 90 seconds. It is not uncommon for a few of the jockeys to be thrown off their horses while making the treacherous turns in the piazza and indeed it is not unusual to see unmounted horses finishing the race without their jockeys. A winning horse does not need to have its jockey! This race is unlike any other.

A magnificent pageant, the Corteo Storico, precedes the race, which attracts visitors and spectators from around the world. Tens of thousands pack the square to get a taste of the action, creating a vibrant atmosphere.

Photo by: Fabio Muzzi (c) 2003

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