The Palio di Siena: A Journey Through History and Tradition

The Palio di Siena is a horse race that takes place twice a year in the Piazza del Campo, the main square of the Italian city of Siena. It is one of the most popular and well-known folk festivals in Italy, and it has been held continuously since the 17th century.

Palio di Siena Tickets
Piazza del Campo crowds waiting the Palio

The history of the Palio is long and complex, but it is generally believed to have originated in the Middle Ages. The first documented Palio was held in 1283, but it is likely that the race was held much earlier than that. The Palio was originally a religious festival, held to celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. However, over time it became more secularized, and today it is seen as a celebration of Sienese culture and identity.

The city of Siena is located in Tuscany, Italy. It is a beautiful medieval city with a rich history and culture. Siena is famous for its art, architecture, and food. The city is also home to a number of universities, making it a vibrant and cosmopolitan place to live.

Skyline of Siena

The Palio is a deeply felt event for the people of Siena. It is a time for the city to come together and celebrate its unique traditions. The Palio is also a time for fierce competition between the 17 contrade, or neighborhoods, of Siena. Each contrade has its own colors, symbols, and history. The contrade are the heart and soul of the Palio, and they are responsible for organizing and participating in the race.

The Palio is a complex and fascinating event. It is a mix of history, tradition, and religion. It is also a time for celebration, competition, and community. The Palio is a truly unique event that is unlike anything else in the world.

The Palio today is a much different event than it was in its early days. The race is now much more organized and regulated. There are strict rules governing the race, and the jockeys and horses are carefully selected. The Palio is also a much more popular event today than it was in the past. Thousands of people from all over the world come to Siena to watch the race.

The Palio is a living tradition that is constantly evolving. It is a reflection of the history, culture, and identity of Siena. The Palio is a source of pride for the people of Siena, and it is a reminder of the city’s unique heritage.

Here are some additional details about the Palio di Siena:

  • The race is run on a dirt track that is set up in the Piazza del Campo.
  • The track is about 1,000 meters long.
  • There are 10 horses in each race.
  • The horses are ridden by bareback jockeys.
  • The race is won by the first horse to cross the finish line.
  • The winning contrade is awarded a palio, or banner.
  • The Palio is held twice a year, on July 2 and August 16.

The Palio is a truly unique event that is a must-see for anyone visiting Siena. It is a chance to experience the city’s rich history and culture, and to see a centuries-old tradition come to life.

If you are planning to attend the Palio, be sure to book your accommodation well in advance. The city is very crowded during the Palio, and hotels and apartments fill up quickly.

How much does a Palio di Siena Ticket cost ? Prices are very variable, for every pocket !

You should know that anybody can watch the Palio for free, standing in the Campo Square: we suggest to arrive early to get a good spot in the Piazza del Campo, and keep it hard !! We know some local teenagers who have slept in the square to get their preferred spot !
As alternative and if you have budget you can book a private window, which is a private property and for this reason there is not a fixed rate, so you should negotiate the rental fee with the owner of the apartment overlooking the Campo Square: windows are expensive and the cost of each one can rise up to euro 6.000-7.000 for the single race.
Another possible option is a spot on a Private Balcony on the first floor surrounding the square, just over the grandstands: Balconies are narrow and guests are placed on 2 rows, with the second row of guests standing on a bench or wooden step. Someone can complaint because it is a bit cramped solution, but the Palio is Palio, it all happens in 3 laps and lasts 100 seconds, it is a question of honor and pride, there is not much room for comfort! Usually (better ask when you book) a spot on balcony guarantees the use of a restroom and a minimum service of drinks and finger food. The higher visual guarantees a better view and according the distance from arrival-starting line the price range for a spot on a Balcony is euro 500 – euro 1.300.
Latest option are the seat on the grandstands which surround the Campo Square. As for the other options there is not a ticket office because all grandstands are private properties, but in this case prices are regulated by the mayor of Siena. The only problem is that nobody respects the pricing and each single ticket is sold at a different higher price. Price range for a Grandstand Seat is euro 250 – euro 800: the seats with direct view of the starting/arrival line are the most exclusive and expensive and most of them are booked and confirmed year after year by local families. The view from the grandstands is thrilling and you really feel the movement of air created by the galloping horses. Be careful to the position of the seat you get and you should know that once you seated there is a small chance to reach a restroom (due to the crowd) and is hard to get a drink.

Check here on line Palio di Siena Tickets availabilities on

Here are some tips for enjoying the Palio:

  • Arrive early to get a good spot in the Piazza del Campo.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, as you will be doing a lot of standing.
  • Bring a hat and sunscreen, as the weather can be hot and sunny.
  • Drink plenty of water, as it can be hot and humid in the Piazza del Campo.
  • Be respectful of the locals and their traditions.
  • Have fun! The Palio is a truly unique and unforgettable experience.