The ceremony of the palio is rigorous. It begins with the presentation of the ‘Cencio’ (hand painted by an artist) and then continues with the race of the “cursori” (four teams of young people, one for each district).
The districts compete with two animals, on which the jockeys gallop bareback. After the religious services are performed in honour of the Most Holy Madonna delle Grazie, with the offering of flowers from the ‘cursori’, there is a solemn procession and a performance by the flag wavers.
The Palio di Siena may have horses, but don’t underestimate these donkeys. They’re considered to be the fastest donkeys in central Italy.
This palio has ancient origins, dating back to 1400s. The four districts “Centro”, “Pieve”, “Castello” and “Santa Maria” follow a specially designed route through the town and it all starts at 6 pm.
There’s also a medieval parade and plenty of colour and fun for all ages!
Discover the undiscovered Tuscany like a local with the only English language guidebook. Pick up a copy in print or as a PDF, ePub & mobi and get gorgeous photos, insider tips, restaurant and accommodation guides and info on all the main attractions. Buy a copy here.