Il Palio is an event following a medieval tradition, involving horses, jockeys and colorful banners. It takes place in Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. Il Palio is a horse race among ten of Siena's neighborhoods or Contradas. There are 17 Contradas , but only ten may compete because of space constraints.
The event is spread out over four days, including three days of trials and the day of the race. The trials usually take place in the morning. During the trials, horses are evaluated to determine how well they can perform.
On the day of the main event, Piazza del Campo is completely packed with local spectators and tourists. First, there is a 2-hour long historic parade featuring medieval costumes. Each Contrada has its own symbols and colors reflected in the wardrobe. An ox-driven carriage carries the Palio banner, which is awarded to the winner, into Piazza del Campo.
The event is scheduled to begin around 7 pm, but it is often delayed. The dangerous race takes only a minute and 15 seconds.
Planning a visit:
This is an important event for the locals and there is a certain amount of tension during the four days. The mail square gets extremely crowded and spectators need to arrive hours in advance to be able to enter the enclosed area. Tourists can also visit the trials during the three days.