Siena and the Palio

Siena is certainly one of the most famous art cities in Italy, offering art and history. Strolling through the roads ad alleys of the historical center, UNESCO world heritage site, one can feel the special atmosphere of a glorious past. Highlights are the unique Piazza del Campo square with the town hall, where one can visit the Civic Museum, and the Cathedral with its rich facade, the stunning interiors and the majestic dome – one of the greatest monuments in Italy.In front of the Cathedral, we find the Museum of Santa Maria della Scala, a former pilgrims’ hospital where one can visit the frescoed “Sala del Pellegrinaio” and temporary exhibitions.
Twice a year, on July 2 and August 16, Siena celebrates its world famous festival: during the four days of the Palio, the city shows the colors of the 17 Contrade (districts) and prepares itself for the final event: the horse race around the square.

During the Palio days, Siena lives in a fascinating atmosphere made of history, traditions and emotions, making it a unique experience also for the visitor.

Only 10 of the 17 Contrade participate in the race: the winner is awarded a banner of painted silk called palio or drappellone, which is hand-painted by a different artist for each event.

On July 2, the Palio is dedicated to the Madonna of Provenzano, who liberated the Sienese from the Spanish siege, while the August Palio is run in honor of the Madonna Assunta, who protected the city during the terrible pestilence.