HIGHLIGHTS: Our 3 night break includes exclusive balcony of the Palio horse race, Attending the Palio trials, Participation in Contrada open air dinner and Guided introduction to the Palio.
Participating in the spectacle of the Palio is an opportunity to peer into the heart and soul of Italy. 700 years of history, Italian rivalry and passion is there for everyone to see and experience on 2 spectacular days in July and August every year. An exciting and truly unusual short break!
The Palio is an event like no other in the world - part sporting and part immersion into a piece of living history. This bareback horse race around Siena's central shell-shaped plaza, the Campo, unfolds with a pageant and rituals that date back hundreds of years. A cultural and sporting event not to be missed when combined with the gastronomy of one of the most picturesque regions in Europe - a truly unique event.
Every year on July 2 and again on August 16, 10 out of Siena’s 17 Contradas are selected to compete for the Palio, a silk banner. The Contradas are named after animals and signify the different wards of the city, each with its own church and social centre. Much of the fun of the Palio occurs in the parades, festivals and dinners held by the participating Contradas in the week leading up to the race. To really get into the spirit, we suggest selecting one of the Contradas to cheer on, including wearing a brightly coloured scarf with the Contrada’s colour and symbol.
Fly into Pisa and pick up your hire car for self drive to your Siena hotel.
Both our offered hotels, Palazzo Ravizza and Hotel Athena, are located within the city walls within walking distance of the sights. There is parking available at both hotels.
Evening at leisure.
Today your guide will give you a guided introduction to the history of the Palio. This will include taking you to the Campo to view the Palio Trials, where horses and jockeys race three times around the square. This is not to see who wins the race, but for the judges to choose which ten horses and jockeys are eligible to race and which Contrada they are representing.
This evening participate in an open-air good luck dinner with your Contrada with the Sienese inhabitants and the chosen jockey. Excitement and expectation will be in the air for tomorrow’s big race.
After a leisurely start, head out with the guide mid-afternoon to witness the build up to this legendary event. If you are lucky, you might even get to see one of the horses being blessed in church!
Take your position before the start to experience the build up, atmosphere and tension in the square.
As where you stand is crucial to being able to fully appreciate this race, we offer the following positions. Please note these are extremely sort after tickets and do book up early:
1. On the Terrace you can see 80% of the race from a bird’s eye view of the Palio Horse race.
2. The Balcony is right on the square with a superb vantage point, overlooking the Campo at the Casato bend so you have the perfect view from which you will be able to see close up the Palio Horse race and immerse yourself in the passionate atmosphere and unfolding spectacle of the Palio Siena Horse race.
3. The Grandstand view is of most of the square. The joy of the grandstands is that these positions are the closest positions to the track with all the drama that that provides and all the grandstands are mostly taken by the local Contradaioli, and so the atmosphere is particularly electric!
4. The Window - you will be standing at the window while watching. There are plenty of seats in the very same room where you will be but you cannot see the view seated. This room has two windows so a total of 4 people will be there. You will have access to the whole apartment and to the main hall where a simple buffet and refreshments are offered. There are around 30 steps to these positions.
Once the race is over the winning Contrada will take to the streets for more entertainment, celebrations will go well into the night. We recommend you visit the winning Contrada to see Italian exhuberance at its best! You're guide will be able to point you in the right direction.
Breakfast and self drive back to Pisa for your flight home after Attending the Palio.
NOTE: This break has limited availability so an early booking is essential.
- 3-nights' accommodation: Palazzo Ravizza with breakfast
- Terrace viewing of Palio Trials & Race
- Car hire
- Guided Introduction and Complimentary Contrada Dinner
Price per person: FROM £1235
based on two people sharing a twin or double room.
This hotel, situated in Siena, combines the character of an 18th century home with the luxuries of a modern hotel. 18th century furniture adorns the numerous sitting rooms, and original works of art and sketches of famous travelers from the Grand Tour illustrate the life of the city.
Perched above the surrounding Tuscan hillside, the grounds of the hotel offer guests a breathtaking backdrop during their stay. With many tables and comfortable arm chairs scattered throughout the hotel gardens, there is room for contemplation or celebration.
This hotel also has its own parking.
The Hotel Athena is a 4 stars hotel in Siena located into the city walls. The Hotel offers a very central location, a few minutes away from the Campo’s square and the Duomo.
In addition to the typical services provided by a 4 stars hotel, the Hotel Athena offers guests a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside showing the beauty of the green Tuscan hills and its medieval farmhouses.
The hotel is equipped with all the modern comforts, including air conditioning, a fantastic restaurant and a private car park.