Officially authorized by the Italian Ministry of Education

Palio di Siena

Palio di Siena


The Palio is not a manifestation exhumed and organized for tourism purposes: it is the life of the Sienese people and in its various aspects and feelings. It has remote origins, with some regulations still valid since 1644, the year in which the first prize was held with horses, as it still happens.

The territory of the City is divided into seventeen Contrade with borders established in 1729 by the Violante Notice of Bavaria, Governor of the City. Each Contrada is like a small state, supported by a Seggio led by the Prior and guided in a "carousel" by a Captain, assisted by two or three contradaioli called "mangini" or "lieutenants".

Each contains a Church, called "Oratorio", with the official headquarters attached, equipped with a Museum, where all its heritage is kept: relics, banners of victories, costumes of the Apparition - those in use and many of ancient date - flags, archives and everything else concerning the life of the Contrada itself.

The race:

The complex mechanism of the celebration reaches its fulfilment with the burst of the firecracker announcing the exit of the horses from the Entrone. Each rider is given a bullock with which he can incite the horse or hinder opponents during the race. Then we proceed to the approach to the "move", that is the point where two ropes are thrown, and the horses and the jockeys will be called to line up. The order of entry is established by fate, in fact the Contradas are called according to the order of extraction, decided secretly and declaimed aloud. Absolute silence reigns in the Piazza. If the start is not valid, a burst of the firecracker will stop the horses. They’ll have to complete three laps of the track for about 1000 meters and only the first one will be crowned victor. The winner is the horse and not the jockey, in fact the former can also cross the line without a jockey and still win.

The celebration:

The celebrations begin immediately: the Contradas receive the Palio and go to the Basilica of the Madonna di Provenzano (for the Palio of July) or to the Duomo (in August) to sing Maria Mater Gratiae to thank the Madonna for the victory. From this moment on, everyone is reminded of the victory won by the Contrada, until autumn, when, between the month of September and October, the victorious district is decorated, and the victory feast is attended by thousands of contradaioli and, residing in place of honour, the victorious horse, is admired as a hero.

Discover your knowledge of

italian language

Fill in the test to self-assess how much you can speak italian

Fill in the test

How much you know about

italian culture

Take now our quiz and find out your knowledge of italian culture

Take the quiz

Pills of Florence

Check out all our news and some events about Florence

Check out now

Our students say

  • From the beginning, I was impressed by the professionalism and friendliness of the staff. The teachers were very helpful in making me feel part of ...
    Salem Paulos , USA 23 June 2016



  • Right in the city centre of Florence

    The Italian language school is located in the heart of Florence, within walking distance of all the most important monuments and the central station.

  • 30 years of teaching

    The school was established in 1983, one of the first Italian language schools in Italy. The experience of over 30 years is a guarantee of professionalism and reliability.

  • Quality of the courses at affordable prices

    Our all inclusive prices are among the best even if you consider that we provide also accommodations, all in the city center.

This website or third-party tools, used by this, make use of cookies required to operate and useful to the purposes outlined in the cookie policy. To learn more or opt out of all or some cookies, see the Cookies Policy.
By closing this banner, scrolling this page, clicking on a link or continuing navigation in any other way, you consent to the use of cookies.