Palio delle Contrade Program

Get a rush of adventure, history, and heritage at the Palio, Tuscany’s most celebrated festival. First recorded in 1283, the Palio is a break-neck, bareback horse race. Held in Siena, the lovely Piazza del Campo is the venue for this thrilling event. Complete with medieval costume, festivities and feasts, the Palio delves deeply into Sienese culture.

On the Town
More than a Race

The Palio is not merely a race, but a healthy dose of competition and celebration among neighbors. Each jockey represents one of the 17 fiercely competitive contrade, or districts, of Siena. With neighbors rallying and cheering, the Palio is an event full of vibrant energy.

Sample the excitement ahead when you witness each contrada receive their horse assignment and racing position by a lottery selection. Attend a “provo generale”, or practice race. Feast with a contrada in their neighborhood the evening before the race.

The day of the race, you can’t help but feel like an Italian native as you cheer along with thousands of spectators. View the actual race and parade from exceptional balcony seats. Although the race itself lasts only 90 seconds, it is preceded by four hours of colorful pageantry in medieval costume, drummers, flag-throwers, display of horses, jockeys, and the prized “Palio”, a hand-painted silk cloth celebrating the Virgin Mary.

• The event falls twice annually, on July 2nd and August 16th. However, the festivities go on for weeks.
• You may include activities from the Diverse Italian Journey, Culinary, Equestrian, or Combination itineraries. The schedule depends on the race dates, and when these dates fall within a given week. Time spent in the saddle, on the land, in the kitchen, or on the town may be somewhat minimized due to attendance at the multiple Palio festivities. However, it is a spectacle you’ll always remember.

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