The Palio is a collective rite, religion, superstition, fortune, strength, money are the ingredients of this very special event.
The Palio takes place twice a year, on 2nd July and on 16th August, when only ten districts run the race, but, according to very old rules, all of the Contradas are protagonists of the event. Fate chooses some districts…and not only…
The Palio is dedicated to Mother Mary, but cabbala has still an important role.
Tourists may happen to see the horse blessing ritual in churches of the districts that run the Palio: a unique experience. The people pray and hope to win a piece of painted silk of no commercial value, but immensely valuable from a symbolic point of view. Winning the Palio is like gaining a new life, approaching heaven and losing one’s mind.
The horse is the protagonist of this event whose roots go back to the military companies settled in Siena in the Middle Ages. The priest blesses the horse and says: “ Go and win !”
Before the race, a historical parade in traditional costume unwinds itself through the town and reaches the Piazza del Campo. It definitely has a clear military connotation. What seems to be just a horse race, is actually a battle among ten horses and their jockeys.
The jockey is a mercenary, a jockey leading a Contrada to victory is paid by the district itself. But how much money does a jockey get from the people of the winning district? Who are the jockeys really ?