Il Palio di Siena is Italy's most famous historical horse race and costumed pageant

Siena's Palio
Events That Lead Up To The Race

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JUNE 29 OR AUGUST 13, 7 am – Presentation of the horses that will participate in the trial runs.

JUNE 29 OR AUGUST 13, 9 am – The so-called "tratta" begins. This is the procedure by which the horses are matched with the ten Contradas participating in the Palio. All horses that have been seen by vets and deemed fit are divided into three groups and tested for three rounds in the Campo to make sure they are suited to the race track. The Contrada captains gather to select the final ten horses, as the Mayor looks on.

JUNE 29 OR AUGUST 13, 10am/11am– On the stage in front of Palazzo Pubblico, lots are drawn and each horse is assigned to a Contrada. After each assignment, the Barbaresco takes the horse to the stables, accompanied by the people of the Contrada.

JUNE 29, 7.30 pm OR AUGUST 13, 7 pm – First of six trial runs preceding the Palio. These races verify the conditions of both the horse and the jockey. For each test the horse is escorted from the Contrada stable to the Entrone (entrance of Palazzo Pubblico) by a large group of Contrada members who often sing traditional songs. If you want to attend the trial runs (which can be extremely boisterous and are not really suitable for young children), you must take your seat in the Campo before the track is cleared by the police.
Every Contrada can change the jockey previously chosen, up until the morning of the Palio. Only the horse cannot be changed. The horses enter the "canape" (two ropes strung across the race track, between which the horses must be aligned before the race can start) in the same order the Contradas will enter the Campo on the evening of the Palio.

JUNE 30 OR AUGUST 14, 9 am- Second trial run. The horses enter the "canape" in reverse order.

JUNE 30, 7.30 pm OR AUGUST 14, 7 pm – Third trial run. The horses enter the "canape" in the order of the draw assignment.

JULY 1 OR AUGUST 15, 9 am – Fourth trial run. The horses enter the "canape" in the reverse order.

JULY 1, 7.30 pm OR AUGUST 15, 7 pm – Final Rehearsal. The horses enter the "canape" in the order of the number attached to their ear during the draw.

JULY 1 OR AUGUST 15, 8.30 pm or so – Final Rehearsal Dinner. In each Contrada participating in the Palio, leaders, members, guests and a few lucky tourists attend a banquet in honor of the pageant protagonists. The jockey sits at the table of honor with the Contrada leaders. Songs, speeches, and wishes for the victory of the Contrada.
After the banquet, each Contrada Captain and his Lieutenants go to visit the leaders of the allied Contradas and make deals aimed at favoring the victory of some Contradas and obstructing enemy ones: everything is based on trust.

JULY 2 OR AUGUST 16, 7.45 am – In the Chapel adjacent the City Hall, the Archbishop celebrates the "Jockey Mass."

JULY 2 OR AUGUST 16, 9 am – "Provaccia." This means "the lousy trial run," so-called because the Contradas show little interest. After this test, captains and jockeys gather at the City Hall to enscribe the jockey and show his colors. After this the jockey can no longer be changed.

JULY 2, 3.30 pm OR AUGUST 16, 3 pm – Blessing of the horse and the jockey in each Contrada's parish church. The priest ends the mystical rite with a wish that sounds like an order: "Go and come back victorious!" The Contradas' and the Comune's extras walk through the historical center, stopping by Piazza Salimbeni, in front of Palazzo Chigi Saracini, and in Piazza del Duomo, to perform flag-waving feats.

JULY 2, 4.30 pm OR AUGUST 16, 3.50 pm – Departure of the cortege from the courtyard of Palazzo del Governo in Piazza del Duomo, to Piazza del Campo.

JULY 2, 5.20 pm OR AUGUST 16, 4.50 pm – The historical cortege enters the square in the order of the first test.

JULY 2, 7.30 pm OR AUGUST 16, 7 pm - The Palio banner is raised above the judges' stage, while the seventeen ensigns perform flag-waving.

Soon thereafter – but only when the jockeys and horses are aligned to the official's approval – the Palio begins!

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