Il Palio - Madness on Horseback

By Philippa Burne, UK, July 2011

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Siena is a lovely city rivaling Florence in its architecture and art; the divide being that Siena’s highpoint was the Medieval era and Florence’s, the Renaissance. Throughout much of Italy, some of the most spectacular traditions from these eras have endured through the centuries.

In July and August Siena provides one of the best: Il Palio. For two days – July 2 and August 16 - the central square of Siena, Piazza del Campo becomes a horse-racing track when packed dirt is laid around its edge. Riders from the ten districts (contrade) of Siena wear their traditional colors and compete for the Palio which is a silk banner (locally known affectionately as ‘the rag’). The race itself lasts about a minute as the ten riders race bareback three times around the piazza. It’s complete madness, a flurry of color, speed, noise, and danger.

Editor's Note: This recommendation was taken from our Tuscany Things To Do blog. Visit the original post to continue reading the full post and to learn more about things to do in Tuscany.

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