The Palio in Siena

Siena horse race

The Palio in Siena
Siena is divided into seventeen subdivisions called Contrade. The Contrade are proudly represented by animals which are the emblems of each group. Another important animal in the Siena culture is the horse who plays the main role in this important event of the year, the Palio, which takes place on the 2nd July and again on the 16 August.
It is a celebrated horse race in which the Contrade compete against each other. It is Siena’s most celebrated ceremony and implicates the importance of relationships between its citizens. They are avid supporters of this age old tradition and will clash with those who wish to interfere with it, such is the case with animal rights activists who refuse to recognize the value of the Palio. They consider the tradition dangerous for the health and safety of racing horses and in order to have the tradition abolished or at least, modified, activists appeal to the most recent national laws on the issue of safeguarding the animals’ well-being. For the locals they are considered as enemies of the city because of interfering with the cultural heritage of Siena.
The atmosphere is very special in this period and it is well worth visiting and if you are lucky enough to get tickets which can run to very high prices for a good seat.