Every year on 02nd July and 16th August in the beautiful Piazza del Campo of Siena take place the traditional and historical Palio di Siena, one of the most famous popular Italian manifestations.
Horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards.
The city territory is divided into 17 “Contrade” with borders established in 1729 by the Proclamation of the Governor Violante di Baviera.
Each “Contrada” is like a small state, ruled by a Prior who is chief of a seat, and guided during the Palio by a Captain, assisted by two or three supporters called “Mangini”. It besides includes inside its territory a church with all its possessions: relics, victory cloths, costumes, even of ancient date – flags, archives and everything concerning the life of the Contrada itself.
A magnificent pageant, the corteo storico, precedes the Palio di Siena race, which attracts visitors and spectators from around the world.
The race circles the piazza del campo, on which a thick layer of dirt has been laid. It is not uncommon for a few of the jockeys to be thrown off their horses, and it is not unusual to see unmounted horses finishing the race and winning without their jockeys.
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Palio di Siena