The day has come for the famous Palio in Siena! Siena host two Palios a year, one on July 2nd and the other is August 16th. Luckily we were here for at least one of them to be able to get the full experience. Over the past couple weeks, I have learned so much about the Palio, but there is still hundreds of years of history and so much to be learned. Siena is divided into 17 sections or contrades. To be apart of a contrade you are usually born in the boundaries of it. There are a lot of different steps to be able to “officially” call yourself belonging in one but the most important step is to be baptized into your designated contrade. You don’t have to be baptized in a religion to be baptized into your contrade, which is a good thing for some people in Siena because not everyone is Catholic or religious.
I do not live in the city walls so I am technically not in a territory of a contrade, so I decided to pick a team to cheer on during the Palio. I chose Selva (which is the tree) because they are a peaceful contrade that does not have a rival. It also didn’t hurt that they were selected to have a very good horse and a jockey that has won 13 Palios during his career. Most of the other students live in the city center next to Piazza Del Campo, so they were in the Onda territory and that who they were cheering for during the actual race.
Last Thursday was a very long day. The morning consisted of all the different contrades going to their churches so that they can bless the horse and jockey for the race then the parade started. The parade was very long but it was very interesting to watch. Since only 10 of the 17 contrades race in the Palio, the parade was a way to feature all 17 of them and even the contrades that are dead or no longer exist. They all had their traditional medieval outfits on with drums and flags everywhere. It was very fun to experience. Then once 7:30pm hit the horses came out and prepared to start the race. It took them longer than usual because one of the jockeys was delaying the race for strategic purposes. After an hour and a half the race finally started and it only lasted about 90 seconds because the horses only have to run three laps around the course. The winner of the horse was the Torre contrade (which is a tower). The partying begins and lasts for weeks for the winning contrade and we even get to join them for a dinner soon.
This was definitely an experience I will never forget!
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<p>My name is Taylor Penny and I am a Senior at Washington State University. My major is Psychology and my minor in Communication. I am originally from Southern California but now a little town called Pullman, WA has my heart! I am excited to travel and to take all m viewers on the journey with me by my blog posts! Happy Reading</p>