Palio in Sienna

Travel tips you can trust


Il Palio
is special

It is the world's most thrilling and frenetic public horse race. The Palio takes place in the picturesque Piazza del Campo of the Tuscan hilltop town of Siena. They ride bareback and lavishly wear the colors and symbols of their contrades (town districts).

The race dates back to 1656 - and has been run virtually every year since.

How the Palio
race is run

Three major elements



The horses run on a narrow track around the perimeter of the main piazza.



The race is three laps around the piazza.



Horses gallop at breakneck speed and the race lasts just 90 or so seconds



The horse that crosses the finish line first wins, with or without its jockey.


Unscrupulous tactics

Il Palio is known for its unscrupulous tactics. This can take form in bribery (paying off another contrade to lose or to keep another horse from winning), in doping (a horse), or in unsportsmanlike conduct (such as a jockey whipping a competitor's horse or rider). You may even see jockeys making last-minute deals at the starting line.


In some years, accidents occur to horses, jockeys and/or spectators.

Learn More

for Palio tips - Page 2

Read my other Italy pages

Wonders of Italy - Complete list
Italy wonder map
Basic Italian phrases
Italian cuisine
Best time to visit Rome


Photo by Gallo71 - CC BY 3.0




Share this page

World's Top 100 Wonders
World's Top 1000 Wonders

Site map
My credentials
About my website and criteria
Reader testimonials