Here at Live Like an Italian, we look forward each year to the running of the Palio in Siena, the famous horse race held each year in the town’s main square, the Piazza del Campo.
The Tenuta Il Poggione, where Mazzoni wines are made, lies about an-hour-and-a-half drive south of Siena in the village of Sant’Angelo in Colle (in the township of Montalcino). Even as far away as Sant’Angelo in Colle, the townsfolk “live” and thoroughly enjoy the event, following each development and all the pageantry that’s involved.
For those who have never heard of the Palio, it’s an ancient horse race that originated in the Middle Ages.
Each year, on July 2 and August 16 (in two separate races), ten of Siena’s seventeen contrade (wards or neighborhood) compete. They are selected by lottery.
The intense and deep-seated rivalries are as much part of the spectacle as the colorful feasts and parades.
The race is an “anything goes” affair and the ten competing wards will do nearly anything to put their rivals at a disadvantage.
Even an excluded ward (not chosen in the lottery) will rejoice when an adversary loses. The celebrations over a vanquished rival are as colorful as those held for an outright victory.
To read more about the Palio, its history, and legacy, check out this well-written entry on Wikipedia.
And to get a sense of the excitement on race day, watch the video (below) of last year’s August race, which was won by the Onda or ward of the Wave.
We’ll be following the events that lead up to this year’s August Palio and we’ll be posting on the race as the event draws closer and the excitement mounts.