Palio delle Contrade - siena 2017

The Palio

The Palio of Siena is a horse race, held twice a year in the city of Siena, in the Piazza del Campo, the central square. Each horse and rider pair represents one of the seventeen contrade of the city. 

The riders, riding bareback, make three laps of the square and are allowed to use their whips to hit other horses and riders. The winner is the first horse to finish the race with its head ornaments intact. The rider does not have to finish the race. The loser of the race is the quarter that finishes second and not last.

The winner receives a painted silk flag, called a palio, designed especially for each race. Although the enthusiasm after the victory is extreme, the prize-giving is immediate. Fights between supporters from different districts sometimes occur and the losers are often ridiculed by the winners.