The Tuscan poet Mario Luzi once wrote: "The Palio is the Palio. No sociological, historical, or
anthropological can explain it. Sublimation and damnation of fate in all of
the citizens of Siena. A burning bonfire of the essence of being Sienese and in
every way its incomparable affirmation."
It is difficult to describe the Palio of Siena. Twice a year, ten of the seventeen "contrade" or "districts" of Siena compete in this horse race in the Piazza del Campo. Thoroughbreds are not allowed and all the jockeys are from Sardegna. Everyone of the town lives the race in the days of preparation and the feasts that precede the event and winning the race means everything to the members of the contrada and they will do anything they can to win the precious prize, the "drappello", which is a banner and which was designed for the 16 August Palio dell'Assunta by artist Giuliano Ghelli.
On Sunday the race was run and the winner has been the Contrada della Civetta, the district of the little owl.
You can watch the race at this streaming of the Università di Siena. You must click on the link to the left called "Palio". It is very interesting to see how the entry of the horses into the boxes is so important to the outcome of the race.