Sienna is the capital of the provice of Siena in Tuscany. The town is divided into 17 contrade, or wards, which have their origins in the Middle Ages. The inhabitants of each contrada hold a loyalty to it which follows them throughout their life.
The Piazza del Campo, the town’s main square is dominated by the Torre del Mangia and the Palazzo Pubblico.
The Duomo is a superb example of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture which took nearly 200 years to complete. The original, grander design was never completed although the east wall of the nave still stands.
Twice each year the town hosts the Palio, a horserace, around the Piazza del Campo. Only 10 horse and riders take part in each race, with 7 contrada having a place by right. The other 10 must draw lots to take the other 3 places.
The inhabitants of the victorious contrada is considered to be “re-born” and, at a parade and feast to celebrate, they can be seen wearing scarves held together by baby’s dummys (pacifiers).
In 2012 the two races where won by Onda (blue and white waves) in July and Valdimontone (red, yellow and pink) in August.
As the summer that year was very wet in Tuscany, the celebratory feasts were held in October over one weekend, luckily coinciding with my visit.
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