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Palio Di Naples, FL


Twice a year, the heart of Siena, Italy, transforms into a living spectacle as the Palio di Siena, also known as the Horse Race of Siena. This isn't your typical equestrian competition; it's a fiercely contested display of civic pride, steeped in centuries of tradition.


The Palio's origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages, where 17 contrada (city wards) held horse races to celebrate religious holidays. Over time, it evolved into a unique blend of sport, religion, and territorial rivalry. Today, the 17 contrade, each with its own distinct colors, symbols, and fiercely loyal supporters, race for victory.


The centerpiece of the Palio is the Piazza del Campo, a seashell-shaped square tilted towards the Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall. The day before the race, a dramatic ceremony takes place, where a representative from each contrada draws a lottery to determine their starting position and the horse they will be assigned. Tension hangs thick in the air as each contrada hopes to secure the famed " cavallo di spine" (winner's horse).


On race day, the Piazza del Campo is transformed into a dirt track. Ten bareback riders, clad in the contrada's colors, jockey for position around the perilous track. The race itself is a whirlwind of dust and hooves, lasting three laps. Victories are fiercely contested, and celebrations erupt for the contrada that claims the coveted Palio, a hand-painted banner depicting the Virgin Mary.


The Palio di Siena is more than just a race; it's a testament to the enduring power of tradition. It's a celebration of community, heritage, and the unwavering spirit of Siena's contrade. If you're looking for an experience that goes beyond the ordinary, witnessing the Palio di Siena is a must. Just be prepared to be swept away by the raw energy and unbridled passion that unfolds in the heart of this historic Italian town.


This year The Naples Italian American foundation will be hosting our own event in honor of this tradition. PALIO DI NAPLES!


Come join us to learn more about this incredible tradition!




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Horse racing is an ancient Italian custom.

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