Palio delle Contrade/Siena


Jun 21st, 2001, 06:27 AM
tom kovendi
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Palio delle Contrade/Siena

Any advice to experience this pageant in Siena on the day of the race?
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Jun 21st, 2001, 08:27 AM
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Tom: I hope you have tickets - they're sure to have been sold out for months now. If you don't, I would strongly suggest you get there very, very early and find a spot in what little shade there may be in the areas around the perimeter of the track. The area in the middle of the track gets more crowded than you can possibly imagine. Ambulance personnel literally have to hoist people who have fainted up over the crowds and run across the tracks ( even during the race!) to get them to the waiting ambulances. Bring plenty of water and be sure to plan to join in the partying in the contrada that wins.
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Jun 21st, 2001, 08:45 AM
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Have been to the Palio with Italian relatives (Tuscan but not Sienese, although 4 of our group lived in Siena at the time) First of all, the Sienese don't particularly welcome tourists with open arms for this event! They regard the Palio as something ancient and personal--it's very meaningful to their culture and not easy to explain to foreigners and they don't particularly want to either. There is negative feeling toward the few tour companies that offer seats to the Palio (not to the tourists themselves, but to the companies). The tickets for seating for the race and for seating for the dress rehersal the day before are surely sold out as are all the hotels of Siena. I would guess that all of the restaurants which will be open at all, have already been fully booked.There is really no shade even on the perimeter. If you choose to stand in the center of the Campo, you will be stuck there for many hours during the parade, the many, many false starts for the race and then for the race itself. It is packed with people and many faint from the heat and the standing.In my opinion, it is not a safe place for children to be just because of the many excited fans who push and shove and run after the race is over. After the race, there is a mad chase to congratulate each other by the winners and to capture the actual "palio" which is the flag that hangs near the mayor's box. The winners then run through the town in celebration. It's not easy to go to the Palio. If you are in the area, I would suggest going the day before to see some of the rehersal and to see the horses. The actual race will be broadcast on TV which you could watch from a quieter town. There have been lots of posts about the Palio---do a search. And, by early, St. Cirq means at dawn! The race itself will be late afternoon. Also, note it's the only time you need to be concerned about pickpockets in Siena and the Sienese blame that on the influx of others who come to take advantage of the situation.
All that said, it's one of the greatest adrenalin rushes you'll ever experience!
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