Around | Within 30 min | Siena and the Palio

Siena and the Palio

25km 30min

Siena needs no introduction: a timeless city that has preserved its medieval layout, the historic centre of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city is small enough to get around on foot, and we recommend wandering aimlessly among the narrow lanes of the city centre, following your instincts! Sooner or later you will be sure to end up at the Cathedral, the highest point in the city, and in Piazza del Campo, with its unusual shell shape, home to the impressive town hall with its famous tower, Torre del Mangia.

Italy’s best-known Palio is run around Piazza del Campo every year, when the 17 contrade or districts of Siena run a breath-taking horse race to win the longed-for prize, the banner known as the Palio, which the local people have affectionately nicknamed il cencio: the rag!

The race itself, known as the carriera, lasts a minute and a half: that’s how long it takes the horses to run three times around the perimeter of the piazza. But perhaps the most exciting moment is when the lots are drawn and the order of the horses at the starting line, between the ropes called canapi, is called out: if horses from rival contrade are side by side, it may take hours before the race actually starts, as their jockeys vie for the most favourable position.

During the days of the Palio the whole city is transformed and takes on a surreal atmosphere: the timing of life in the town is determined by the trial runs of the Palio and the celebrations in the various contrade all over the city centre.

Go to to find out when the next Palio is scheduled!