The Palio di Siena is not an event organised to attract tourism: it is the people of Siena life in the changing of times and in its different aspects and feelings.
The Palio has far away origins and ancient rules that are still used and valid from1664. Right on this year the Palio was run for the first time and it still is, in a never interrupted continuity. In the Palio the various "Contrada" of Siena, that is the "areas" into which the town is divided, challenge each other in a passionate horse race in the main square of the town: Piazza del Campo.
Siena is divided into 17 "Contrada" at the moment: Aquila (Eagle), Bruco (Caterpillar), Chiocciola (Snail), Civetta (owl), Drago (Dragon), Giraffa (Giraffe), Istrice (Porcupine), Leocorno (Unicorn), Lupa (She-Wolf), Nicchio (Shell), Oca (Goose), Onda (Wave), Pantera (Panther), Selva (Forest), Tartuca (Tortoise), Torre (Tower), Valdimontone (Rampant Ram).
Each Contrada is charcterized by an emblem and unique colors and it is placed in a specifc part of the town. Walking through Siena streets you will easily understand in which Contrada you find by looking at the flags and emblems shown along the streets. On the day of the Palio race the town is in ferment and all the day is dedicated to the event. The Palio is for sure a unique chance to fully live the warmth and the passion of city of Siena.
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