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Palio di Siena (Palio di Provenzano)

July 2nd (& August 16 - Palio dell'Assunta)

PALIO DI SIENA (Palio di Provenzano) 

Historical Horse Race



Since 1147, twice a year jockeys and horses from Siena’s 17 contrade (districts) battle it out in Piazza del Campo: July 2nd (the Palio di Provenzano) and August 16 (the Palio dell’Assunta).

10 contrade participate in each race, which include the seven that had not run the previous year plus three others chosen by lottery.


Every contrada receives a horse, once againchosen by lottery and then assigned to the jockeys on the 29th of June for the first race, and on the 13th of August for the second.

This marks the beginning of the Tratta, a fourday celebration.

The Carriera, or final race, is preceded by six test runs that take place in both morning and evening, giving the jockey a chance to get familiar with his horse.

The last evening test run is called the Prova generale, while the very last one takes place the morning of the Palio and is called the Provaccia.


The race consists of three laps around Piazza del Campo, on a packed clay track that runs around the shell shaped area.

The race begins at the mossa, formed by two ropes - a space where 9 of the 10 horses must line up according to their racing slot (chosen by lottery). When the last horse, the rincorsa, decides to enter the line up, the first rope is

dropped and the race begins.


The winning contrada is the one whose horse arrives at the finish line first, with or without the jockey.

The prize is a palio, or banner, made every year by an artist selected by the city.

This desirable prize is then held for perpetuity in the winning contrada’s museum.

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