The Palio takes place in the Piazza del Campo, Siena, on the 2nd July and the 16th August every year, with its origins dating back as far as the 11th Century. It is a bareback horserace and is a celebration of seventeen "contrade" (districts) of Siena, the winning of which affirms the strength and pride the people have in their own contrade.Even though the race itself actually only lasts about 90 seconds, the week leading up to the Palio is one of excitement and tension, with Siena exuding a festival-style atmosphere, the days filled with the traditional preparations behind the race including the presentation, selection and assignation of the horses; the trial heats, as well as various religious blessings.To be able to get a ticket and see the actual event is spectacular (although tickets are usually sold out some months before the event), but even spending time in Siena during the build up to the race is an opportunity certainly not to be missed.
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