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One of the most exciting, electric, atmospheres I have ever experienced, must be the streets of Siena, Italy, during the build up to the Palio. There were crowds of people filling the streets, marching, singing the song of their ‘contrade’. Their flags were everywhere; covering the walls, hanging out windows and being waved by the crowds. It really was fantastic, especially when two contrada met each other in the streets.
So, what exactly is the Palio? (or at least my understanding of it)
The Palio is an old horse race where 10 horses and riders race bareback around the Piazza del Campo. The race takes part twice a year, (July and August) and each rider is dressed in the colours of their contrade. There are seventeen contrade in Siena which represent the 17 wards/districts of the city. The 7 who didn’t race the previous year automatically enter the next year and lots are drawn for the remaining 3 spots.
It is something I have always been interested in, but never been able to get my head around all the rules, rituals and rivalries from bits and pieces I have found on the internet. I was very excited when I found out they were making a documentary film about the Palio. It never made it to a cinema near me, but I am hoping it will be on netflix or something soon so I can watch it!
Here’s the trailer! I think it looks fantastic!