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ONE DAY AT THE PALIO

written by Dave Mitchell

Ostuni città bianca

Siena citizens seemed to be mad about the Palio: the tranquillity and calm of the city I read about before leaving does not reflect the enthusiasm growing up in the days of this extraordinary event, when you can feel by yourself the growing excitement of the ride.

The Palio I assisted to was the July one (2nd of July 2007, the other one is traditionally held on August 16th): a lot and lot of events are presented in the days and weeks before the Palio and up to 6 warm up rides are held to make the horses feel comfortable with Piazza del Campo’s location and the excited standing crowd. Unfortunately I only assisted to the main ride, but it has been a moment I will remember for my entire life: me and my girlfriend spent hours and hours (probably 7, I don’t exactly remember) waiting in the middle of Piazza del Campo for taking the best available places since the morning.

The horses entered in the square when the sun was still high in the sky and all the people began to go mad and have fun supporting their own teams, each of them representing one of the City’s areas. Before the start many and many tests have been made: the man standing next to me explained me that if the horses are not in line (each of them in its own area) in front of the start rope the ride could not have been made begin.

Once the ride started it all happened very quickly: you can hear nothing because of people’s shouting but you can undertsand quite good how the ride is going following the crowd’s excitement.

The Palio I assisted to has been won by the City area of The Goose, and my best memory is with no doubt the night of feasts and parties for the streets of Siena with the “contradaioli” of the winning team!

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