Unique Size: 8"
560. Trombetto di Palazzo 561. Contrada della Chiocciola 562. Contrada del Bruco 563. Contrada della Torre 564. Contrada dell'Istrice 565. Contrada dell'Onda
566. Contrada della Pantera 567. Contrada della Lupa 568. Contrada del Leocorno 569. Contrada della Giraffa 570. Contrada del Nicchio 571. Contrada dell'Aquila
572. Contrada
dell'Oca
573. Contrada del Montone 574. Contrada della Selva 575. Contrada della Civetta 576. Contrada della Tartuca 577. Contrada del Drago


The history of "Palio"

Siena is a small, but marvellous, town, typically middleagish, about 30 miles from Florence. In its earliest days it was a Roman Colony and it is reported that it was founded by Caesar Augustus (63 a. C - 14 p. C.). The most important event is the renown “Palio delle Contrade” (from the Latin word “Pallium”, meaning cloth or banner), known all over the world. The origin of this characteristic tournament is lost in the night of times. In the year 1599 the several popular events were substituted by she-buffaloes mounted by jockeys and it was decided that victory would be awarded, and therefore the “Palio” not to the winning jockey, but rather to the neighbourhood district (Contrada) represented
by the former. In the year 1656 horses were substituted for the she-buffaloes, being too dangerous to ride, the horses being ridden bareback, deciding at the same time that the “palio” was to be run on the 2nd day of July among the ten “contrade” chosen by lots among the seventeen making up at the time, as it is at present, the township of Siena. In the year 1701, finally, it was decided to run the race a second time on the 16th day of August and to this second edition the seven remaining “contrade” previously excluded take their place together with three drawn by lots among the other ten.
On a Palio Day a following complicated and suggestive cerimonies, the representatives of the seventeen “contrade” dressed up in the typical and colourful costumes of the middle ages (each “contrada” has different colours of its own) and followed by their respective “gonfaloni” (standards) and flags, assemble in the Piazza del Campo; here the seventeen flag-bearers perform, in front of an overwhelming crowd shouting with passion, the collective “sbandierata” (waving of fine
flags performed with particular dexterity, the flags being tossed up high in the air and figures made following a strict, ballet-like precision) which is a suggestive and truly amazing feat of skills.
The “sbandierata” over, the ten chosen riders line up by a rope stretched across the racetrack, bounded for purpose, in order to start the “Palio” itself. When the rope is lowered they all start off at high and reckless speed, spurred on in an undescribable manner by the crowd now excited to the highest degree and which is shouting like an apocalyptic thunderstorm.
After three laps the “contrada” 's horse who, even if without his jockey, has reached first the finish line, is awarded the coveted “Palio” in the midst on an enthusiasm which has no match in any other known agonistic competition.
Great celebrations, feasts, huge dinners and torch parades by the winning “contrada” follow for several days.
This, in summary, is the famous “Palio” of Siena which is repeated every year from centuries without
interruption.

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