Palio di Siena horse race was initiated in the middle ages in honour of the Virgin Mary. Even nowadays Palio di Siena is not intended only for tourists, but it is the most important event of the year for all citizens of Siena! Anyway, the race attracts many tourists from all over the world, and it is one of the must-see events of Tuscany. We have some tips for how to watch Palio di Siena race 2015.
Advices for spectators of Palio di Siena horse race 2015
Locals from Siena have some good advices for those who want to see Palio di Siena horse race. We ask Federico, our collaborator, to share some tips with our readers.
Since my first day in Siena, in 1994, the Palio and everything around hasn‘t changed one little bit. All the rituals and the mood of the people are the same year after year, and they are probably preserved since the first Palio.
If you really want to experience the medieval spirit, not a recreation but the real one, Palio di Siena is the only place in the world where you can live it! To try this experience you have to respect some basical (but unbreakable) rules.
The first rule of Palio di Siena – the star is the horse, so don‘t bother the horse.
The Second rule is, never never bother the horse.
Palio is not a simple horse race, and the rivalry between the Contrade is not like between two opposite soccer teams. It is more similar to the war! Sometimes you can see a dogfight just after the race is finished. This year among the participants will race the Contrade of Nicchio, Valdimontone and Torre as well as their worst enemies Onda and Oca. Some Brawl is almost guaranteed. But don‘t worry, nothing really dangerous, if you will stay at your place and don‘t try to calm the people.
If you will be in Siena some day before palio, don‘t miss out the „cena in Contrada“. Every Contrada organizes a dinner the day before Palio and for July 2015 my pick is Contrada Della Tartuca. Tartuca has a big court with a large number of seats so it will be easy to find a free place. Don‘t forget to buy you ticket before, the name of the ticket is „tessera“ and here you can see where and when you can buy it.
Once the 2nd July is arrived, my first tip is at 9 am to go in Piazza del Campo to see the shakedown, or, in Siena dialect the „provaccia“. Usually there are few people, so it will be a good chance to understand how the horses will race around the square. The basic difference beetween the „provaccia“ and the Palio is the number of people in Piazza del Campo!
When the provaccia is finished you can visit famous place of Siena and eat some good pici (homemade pasta tipical of Siena) with cinta sauce (cinta is a rare type of pig, grey with a white collar).
To see Palio di Siena you have two choices: to rent a place on one balcony or to stay inside the square.
The real pathos of Palio is inside the square, and here is where all the Siena‘s citizens will be. Furthermore the entrance in the square if free, no ticket to buy (instead balconies are very expensive!).
It should be easy to choose the square, but here is where the things get tricky! In July Siena is very hot and many hours under the sun could be unconfortable, in addition once you are inside the square and Palio is near to start, you cannot leave the square (and there is no wc inside!!).
But don‘t worry, here is a good tip i can give you: the is one gate that remains open until 5pm – the gate of via Duprè (a narrow street next to the Mangia Palace).
Once inside the square try to find a position with a good view of San Martino turn or Casato turn, because they are the most spectacular and tricky.
Finally, after the race, follow the people and the horse of the winning Contrada inside their palace and partecipate in the party!