Who hasn't heard of the Palio di Siena?
Is the event most awaited by the city districts and by the Sienese themselves. We must say that the Palio is not an event for the use of tourists because it is not a simple folklore or entertainment event. Is a deeply felt by the inhabitants who look forward extraction of districts in two fateful days: on 2 July (Palio di Provenzano) and on 16 August (Palio dell'assunta).
Siena is divided into 17 districts; they are real community who contribute throughout the year habits and customs of a life. Each contrada has alliances, enemies and friends. There are stories passed down from generation to generation telling us about the victories, defeats, but also cheating and sgarbi. You should know that within each district there are museums, displays and exhibits that tell these traditions.
If you have decided to visit Siena, just at the time of the Palio, we can suggest a suitable location to discover the city among the places not to miss in the city and those more details related to the various districts.
The Palio takes place in Piazza del Campo. It is considered one of the most beautiful squares in the world. Piazza del Campo is a Shell shape and consists of 9 segments. If you're planning to visit it to take pictures and admire it as a good self-respecting tourist: you'll want to go the day before or after. During the event you can't see it and you risk being in the way. The day of the Palio the Palio must live! Another tip: If you're fascinated by the colors and the handkerchiefs of the districts be careful not sfoggiarle in the wrong places.
Around the square you will also find the Torre del Mangia. A must-see if you want to see Siena from above. Before you get you have to lay your purse or your bag at the ticket office. The stairs are quite narrow so if you suffer from claustrophobia or Vertigo you don't venture out on this climb. The first part is quite steep, while the latter is more open and the view from up there will pay for itself each step done. (If there are 400). At the top of the square you can find the Fonte Gaia. If you are a lover of photography race to do some shooting.
Around you can find the Palazzo Comunale and Palazzo Sansedoni. You should know that the historic centre of Siena is entirely pedestrian and was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995. In the days of the Palio many timetables change and there may be changes on entrance ticket of the various spaces.
Are you ready to surprise you again? Siena is a continuous discovery through the alleys of the city you can find shops, and the time to move a few steps further you will find the Cathedral. It has a very distinctive façade in black and white. The most interesting part is definitely inside the floor full of esoteric symbols and religious stories. The Piccolomini library frescoes by Pinturicchio, the Piccolomini chapel where Michelangelo worked for a few years and the pulpit by Nicola Pisano with biblical scenes. In addition to the Cathedral you can admire the Baptistery with the baptismal font in bronze and marble.
Don't miss the Rocca Salimbeni downtown. The hotel offers in Siena's main course and here is the headquarters of the world's oldest Bank: Banca Monte Paschi di Siena. Access to the building requires a specific reservation, but on the days near the Palio is freely accessible to all.
As I said initially, Siena is divided into 17 districts and each cultivates stories, traditions, memorabilia stored in specific museums. We recommend choosing a contrada and venturing out to discover the world that you saw in the Palio and discover something more.
You should know that in the days before the Palio are organized dinners in various districts. Are quite economical and even tourists can participate. To participate simply heading in the contrada's headquarters and to book a place on the same day. Not all of this rule applies if you are interested in a specific district we suggest that you inform in advance to reserve your place at the table. While dinner for the Palio takes place some months after the event and is reserved exclusively to the Contrada.
Are you ready to experience the Palio and to discover every corner of Siena? Good tour!