What we’ve done • Where we did it • Where we’re doing it now

 
 

DESTINATIONS

Most recent

 

FRANCE

Rouen

Voices From Her Age Recreate Joan of Arc’s Story Historial Jeanne d’Arc is in palace where she was tried
 

FRANCE

Rouen

 
 

SWITZERLAND

Basel

 
 

UNITED STATES

Bisbee, AZ

 
 

JORDAN

Jerash

 
 

CANADA

Montréal, QC

 
 

GUIDE LIGHTS

Tips from the smartest guidebooks

 

ITALY

Siena

 

The Siena Palio

Rough Guide to Tuscany & Umbriath edition

THE SIENA PALIO, says the 10th edition of the Rough Guide to Tuscany & Umbria, “is the most exciting and spectacular festival event in Italy.” Held every summer since at least the 13th century, it’s a horse race that sends entrants charging madly three times around the town’s main square, the Campo.

The Palio is run twice: once on 2 July, and again on 6 August. The rules are unique to Siena. Each of the city’s 17 wards, or contrade, enter a rider, but only 10 are drawn by lot. A rider’s horse is also picked randomly. Aside from a prohibition on interfering with another jockey’s reins there are no rules. “Everything else is accepted and practised.”

“The race,” says the guidebook, “becomes a vehicle for schemes, plots and general mayhem. Each contrada has its traditional rival…one’s rival’s loss is as important as winning for oneself.” Jockeys may be bribed, horses drugged. (All this, by the way, is in honour of the Virgin Mary. Afterwards the winners go to church to give thanks.)

The festivities begin about 5 p.m., with bell-ringing and a parade of horses and medieval-costumed officials, plus acts of athleticism and flag-twirling. The course is covered with sand and padded with mattresses in an effort to minimize injury to horses and riders. “Despite all probabilities no jockey has ever been killed.”

The race itself starts at 7:30 p.m. (July) or 7 p.m. (August) when the one horse not penned between two ropes charges the group from behind and the other nine take off after it. It lasts about 90 seconds. It doesn’t matter if the rider makes it to the finish line: it’s the horse that wins and gets the silk banner—a palio.

 

www.roughguides.com

 

DENMARK

Roskilde

 

CANADA

Québec, QC

 

GREECE

Ithaca (Ithakí)

 

EGYPT

Alexandria

   

RSS logo

Culture Locker
CL chest
The Archives

193 stories from around the world

Most Enjoyed

Guide Lights
GL bookshelf
The Library

Recommendations from 297 of the latest guidebooks