Siena’s yellowish-brown buildings are the embodiment of a gothic medieval city. Her golden age came to a screeching halt with the plague called the Black Death of 1348.
Witness the glorious historical Il Palio dell’Assunta 2012 in Siena, a bareback horse race around the Piazza del Campo. It lasts for about 90 seconds. The race features jockeys from Siena’s 17 neighbourhoods or Contrade.
WHEN: Palio dell’Assunta on August 16, 2012 (follows the Palio di Provenzano, which took place on July 2, 2012).
WHERE: Il Campo, in Siena Tuscany
Enlightened travelers will love this charming city in the heart of the Chianti Classico zone about 21 miles south of Florence. Order a bottle of wine at a cafe in the shell-shaped brick Piazza del Campo is one of Italy’s most triumphant piazzas, large enough to feature a medieval semi-annual 350-year-old summer bareback horse race called the “Palio delle Contrade” www.paliosiena.com.
Here’s a video of the event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=C7AyhpWXgoE
The victor of the Palio celebrates with a massive town dinner (cena). Sometimes the horse wins without a jockey. The piazza’s surface is divided into nine segments by colored paving stones, symbolizing Siena’a original Council of Nine. Their members governed the city in her medieval heyday.
The council met at the Palazzo Pubblico on the eastern part of the square. In Siena visit Italy’s most famous Enoteca on Piazza Matteotti housed within the Medici fortress, order from among 1000 wines from more than 50 producers. Then take the Chianti Road (La Chiantigiana) through the magnificent Tuscan countryside revered and replicated in Renaissance paintings.
While you are visiting Siena, sip some Sant’ Antimo Terre du Siena in the Campo with some pappardelle con leper, pappa al pomodoro or Costata alla Fiorentina.
The Tuscan hillsides provide the ideal micro-climates for Sangiovese and Trebbiano grapes. Visit the Italian Library of Wine in Siena owned by the Italian government to showcase their finest wines. The outdoor terrace is a great “vino con vista” venue.
If you want to learn about the 17 “Contrade” (0riginally there were about fifty-nine) from their official Palio Website visit: www.ilpalio.org
“Here is a partial list of their names, emblems and colours grouped into “Terzi” or “Terzieri” (historically, the town was divided into three sections called: “Terziere di Città”, “Terziere di San Martino” and “Terziere di Camollia”).
Terziere di Città “AQUILA (Eagle) a double-headed eagle with imperial symbols. Yellow with black and blue bands. CHIOCCIOLA (Snail) a snail. Yellow and red with blue bands. ONDA (Wave) a swimming dolphin wearing a crown. White and blue. PANTERA (Panther) a rampant panther. Red and blue with white bands. SELVA (Forest) a rhinoceros bearing a huge tree hung with hunting implements. Green and orange-yellow with white bands. TARTUCA (Tortoise) a tortoise. Yellow and blue.”
Terziere di San Martino “CIVETTA (Owl) an owl. Black and red with white bands. LEOCORN0 (Unicorn) a unicorn. White and orange-yellow with blue bands. NICCHIO (Shell) a seashell. Blue with yellow and red bands. TORRE (Tower) an elephant with a tower on its back. Dark bordeaux red with white and blue bands. VALDIMONTONE or simply MONTONE (Ram) a rampant ram. White and yellow with red bands.”
Terziere di Camollia “BRUCO (Caterpillar) a caterpillar. Yellow and green with blue bands. DRAGO (Dragon) a flying dragon. Red and green with yellow bands. GIRAFFA (Giraffe) a giraffe. White and red. ISTRICE (Porcupine) a porcupine. White, red, black and blue bands. LUPA (She-Wolf) the Roman She-Wolf suckling the twins. Black and white with orange-yellow bands. OCA (Goose) a crowned goose with the cross of Savoia round its neck. White and green with red bands.
The “Contrade” first appeared in the middle of the 15th century to celebrate certain solemn events. They were represented by special wooden devices shaped like animals, like a giraffe, a dragon, a porcupine, a she-wolf, a caterpillar, a goose etc.”
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Italy Travel Guides and Apps @ www.vino-con-vista.com