Il Palio di Siena: not a simple horse race!

I would say that “Il Palio di Siena” is one of the most important annual sporting events.
For local people, however, it means definitely more than a horse race. This sport event takes place twice a year , on 2 July and 16 August, in Siena, Italy. The first one is Palio di Provenzano and the one held in August is Palio dell’Assunta (both dedicated to Virgin Mary).
Each horse, that represents one of the 17 contrade (city wards), will participate together with its rider, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours. The Corte Storico, a pageant, precedes the race and attracts tourists and people from all over the world. You can feel an electric atmosphere. It comes from the vivid competition among the “contrade”, the excitement of local people and astonishment felt by tourists. The race itself takes place in Piazza del Campo and runs for three laps of the Piazza.

So, I would say that it lasts an average of 90 seconds. But Il Palio is more about what comes before and after the actual race.


Il Palio di Siena

Il Palio di Siena Credits


What to do and how to live this Lifetime Experience

To absorb and enjoy the local atmosphere, come one day earlier and have a dinner for two in the Contrada Restaurant. This is a typical Palio tradition: each contrada holds festive open-air dinners with table on the main street or in the main piazza.
Second tip: arrange ahead your view! There are some possibilities for you to watch this medieval race:

  1. You could watch it for free, just taking position in the cordoned-off area in the middle of the piazza. But, if you want a good view, you should be prepared to a long wait. And bear in mind that there aren’t toilets. So I would avoid this option.
  2. The second one is to book a seat on the stands or “palchi” from restaurants, bars.. but it is difficult to buy a seat the day before, so you should buy it this year for the next one.
  3. The third and best option is to be peacefully welcomed in one of the elegant buildings facing the Piazza, and watch the enchanting race from a sumptuous window. And that’s the right way!

What is “Il Palio”?

Il Palio is the Trophy won by the first horse that crosses the finish line. It is known locally as the “rag”: it is a rectangular piece of silk, decorated and hand-painted by a local artist chosen every year for this occasion. This Trophy remains the property of the contrada and its value is very special for the locals.

Where to stay for “Il Palio”?

This annual horse race could be a pleasant occasion and “excuse” to appreciate an even deeper experience. Sardatur has created a special package including a stay in the 5* Castel Monastero Tuscan Retreat & Spa.
Treat yourself with a Superior Room, festive dinner for 2 in the Contrada Restaurant, to better feel the exciting atmosphere the day before the Palio takes place.
Watch the Palio in the comfort of a window space overlooking the Piazza del Campo and enjoy a Buffer Dinner with the local specialities at the end of the race. The package includes a Spa treatment and access to “Acqua Benessere” indoor water area of the Spa.

So, what are you waiting for?
Click here to book and take advantage of the saving!