The Palio di Siena – extreme horse-racing, medieval-style

The Palio di Siena,
The Palio di Siena,
Horses charging around the Piazza del Campo


Italians don’t do things by halves, and the Palio is no exception. A 4-day horsing event culminating in the final race, with the Palio (an ornate banner, made by a different artist every race) going to the first horse across the finish line. I choose my words carefully, because the horse can still win without its rider! It’s a lot safer now than it used to be when we first started our Tuscany villa rental business, 30 years ago. It wasn’t uncommon for horses or riders to be killed.

Accidents do still happen, but are rarer events these days. It is a fiercely contested race, and the locals are insanely passionate about it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking The Palio is for tourists. Tourists are tolerated at these events, not necessarily welcomed. This is about parish pride taken to the extreme. Fights often break out amongst rival supporters, especially if they think the race has been fixed against them. And shady dealing, bribery, clandestine agreements are all part of the race, with new alliances being hatched right up to the last second as the horses are lining up to start. The horse-race at the end is just the tip of the iceberg. There never was a race more steeped in intrigue, history and passion.

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#palio   #tuscany   #italytravel   #tuscanyvillarental   #chiantiholildayvilla

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Huge crowds around the Piazza del Campo

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