Postcard of the Week: The Palio di Siena
The Palio di Siena may be recognisable to some from the opening scenes of Quantum of Solace and it dates back to 1656. It’s a biannual horse race that takes place in Siena’s main square, the Piazza del Campo, on the 2nd July and the 16th August of every year. Ten jockeys, each adorned in the colours of the individual city district that they represent, ride bareback three times around the piazza, which has a thick layer of dirt laid over the cobbled stones, and the race lasts for no more than 90 seconds. It’s steeped in medieval tradition, notably by the lack of rules during the race (riders can shove and whip other horses as much as their own), by the attire and by the ornate procession that directly precedes the race.
It is possible to watch standing but it’s intensely crowded and for those with a little more cash to burn, the local residents of the Piazza del Campo will sell tickets to simply stand on their balconies to watch the Palio. One particularly expensive spot this year sold places on a prime balcony for a whopping €750 per person, for a just a few hours, and the prices for even more luxurious spots were left undisclosed.