Palio Program - August 2024


DAY 1: Check-in at Grand Hotel Continental Siena & Welcome Dinner

DAY 2: State Archives, Palazzo Pubblico, Meeting with a Palio Jockey & General Trial Race

DAY 3: Siena Cathedral Terraces, Cathedral Museum, Blessing of the Horses & PALIO RACE

DAY 4: Pienza & Wine tasting at Casanova dei Neri

DAY 5: Check-out of Grand Hotel Continental Siena

The Palio…

Twice a year, on July 2 and August 16, the city of Siena transforms its main medieval square into an arena of unbridled fury. Ten bareback horses and their respective jockeys race three laps at breakneck speed around a dirt-covered piazza that is filled with fifty-thousand people! That is the Palio, and for the past seven centuries winning it has been the most important objective of every Sienese citizen.

”Many race for the palio, but just one takes it.”

Dante Alighieri, Il Convivio

Although the race lasts only ninety seconds, it is the climatic catharsis of an entire year of preparations, negotiations, contracting, festivities and prayers for the ten contrade or “neighborhoods” who know that they will be running in the next Palio. The Sienese veritably live and die for the Palio. The members of a winning contrada (or contradaioli) will celebrate with pacifiers in their mouths as a symbol of being reborn in victory. The contrada that has not won in the longest time is called la nonna – “the grandmother”. The flag bearer of a contrada will always be present at the funeral (not to mention baptism, first communion, wedding, and 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries) of one its contradaioli with the characteristic colors and animal symbol of the contrada held high. As one historian put it, “…the Sienese never really stop thinking about the Palio.”

But seeing the Palio is not enough! In order to truly understand this seven-century-old tradition, you must live it.

Tour Services
Main Attractions
Sightseeing Tickets
5 Days
Tour Type
Italy Programs
Group Size
Average 10
  • August 14, 2024

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