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Gearing up for the Palio di Siena, the city’s famous medieval horse race

If you’re anything like us, you’re gearing up for the Palio di Siena next week, the famous horse race run twice a year in the center of historic Siena, the beautiful medieval city of Tuscany (that’s the Duomo or main cathedral of Siena in the photo to the left).

We’ll be following next week and posting the winner here on the Siena blog. So please check back soon!

A little background on the race follows (via WikiSiena).

See also the Wikipedia entry.

And the official website here.

The Palio is the most important event in Siena and it has involved the life of Sienese people over time and in many different aspects and feelings: “You run the Palio all year long”, someone says. It is a horse race run in Piazza del Campo and it was born long time ago (the earliest known antecedents of the race are medieval and some present day regulations are still valid since 1644, when it was run the first Palio with horses, as it is run today).

It is held on July 2nd (named Palio di Provenzano, in honour of Madonna of Provenzano) and August 16th (named Palio dell’Assunta, in honour of the Assumption of Mary) and it is run by 10 of the 17 Contrade (city wards) that form the city.

Each Contrada is like a small state, ruled by a Seat headed by the Prior and led in the “carousel” by a Captain, assisted by two or three contradaioli called “Mangini”; their boundaries was established in 1729 by Proclamation of Violante of Bavaria, Governor of the City.

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