The Oldest Horse Race in Italy: Il Palio in Siena, Italy

Advisor - Gina Cardoni Martin
Curated By

Gina Cardoni Martin

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  • Italy

  • Siena

  • City Travel

  • International Travel

  • Family Travel

  • Architecture

  • History

  • Horse Racing

Upwards view of Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy
Curator’s statement

I absolutely love Italy and have spent a lot of time visiting small towns and attending unique events. Siena, an ancient and walled city in Italy, is a great place to visit for the day or for a few nights as you travel and tour the little towns of Tuscany. As the summer progresses, a special and unique horse race is poised to take place on July 2, 2022 and again on August 16, 2022. In fact, every year since 1701, Il Palio is run annually around the Piazza del Campo, the main square in the center of town and is Italy’s oldest horse race. This is a race between all 17 districts (contrade) in Siena. There are 17 contrade in Siena and each contrada has a horse that runs in the race. For days up until the race, parties start and a lottery is held to pick 10 contrade who will run bareback 3 times around the piazza. Each contrada, or team, has a lot of history, its own flag and each is generally associated with a family.

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Where to stay in Siena, Italy

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Grand Hotel Continental Siena - Starhotels Collezione

The only 5-star luxury hotel in the heart of Siena, elegantly furnished with frescoes and Tuscan cotto tiles.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Hotel T S.r.l - Hotel Palazzetto Rosso

Contemporary boutique hotel set within an old brick palace merging design-forward and traditional in a unique space.

Hotel Minerva

Charming terrace hotel in Sorrento with cozy accommodations and a space to unwind after a day of Amalfi adventuring.

Fora Perks
  • Welcome fruit basket in room on arrival.

  • 20% discount at restaurant and complimentary aperitif.

  • Upgrade to next room category whenever possible.

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Things to do in Siena, Italy

Duomo di Siena in Piazza del Duomo, in Province of Siena, Italy

Experience Siena, Italy's Beautiful City

Cathedral of Siena (Duomo): the main cathedral of the city and sits on a hill.

Santa Maria della Scala: a museum near the cathedral.

The Torre del Mangia: the bell tower in the center of town at Piazza il Campo.

Piazza San Francesco is off-the-beaten-path and a great way to spend time with the kids.

Places to eat & drink in Siena, Italy

Wine shop in Radicofani, a province of Siena, Italy

Antica Trattora Papei is located behind the municipal building in Piazza del Campo and is the perfect place to have a great meal before il Palio. The specialties include rabbit, tripe and wild boar.

Al Mangia is located in the center of town right on the racetrack. It has a special menu specifically for Il Palio.

Advisor - Gina Cardoni Martin

Travel Advisor

Gina Cardoni Martin

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