The Palio of Siena on July 2nd

Program and practical advice

The Palio of Siena is an integral part of the city’s history and the people of Siena. It is run twice a year: on July 2nd in honor of the Madonna di Provenzano and on August 16th in honor of the Madonna Assunta.

Every summer, in the days leading up to July 2nd, the city transforms and the atmosphere changes. If you wish to attend the trials or the Palio on July 2nd, we invite you to take note of the schedule for each day and all the practical advice to keep in mind. There will be four days of events to follow to learn about the highlights of the Palio.

It is important to know that only ten of the seventeen Contrade race, and their participation is regulated by a draw that takes place at least twenty days before each Palio. The seven Contrade that did not race in the previous year’s Palio on the same date have the “right” to race, while the other three are drawn among the ten that participated.


There are six trials, held every morning (around 9:00 am) and every afternoon (around 7:30 pm), and they are important to assess the conditions of both the horse and the jockey. For each trial, the horse is accompanied to the Entrone from the Contrada’s stable by a large group of Contrada members who sing traditional songs. The fifth trial is called the “general trial”; at the end of it, the people of the ten Contrade and their guests gather in the heart of each neighborhood, where the great propitiatory dinner takes place.


Around 8:00 am, in the Chapel adjacent to the Palazzo Pubblico, the “Mass of the Jockey” is celebrated by the Archbishop. Immediately after, the final trial, called “Provaccia,” takes place, with little effort from the jockeys who are focused on the demanding evening race.

At 10:30 am, in the Palazzo Pubblico, in the presence of the Mayor, the “jockeys’ signing” takes place, and from that moment on, they cannot be replaced for any reason. Around 3:00 pm, at the oratories of the Contrade, the blessing of the horse takes place.

Afterwards, the members of the Contrade and the participants from the Municipality cross the historic center, stopping at Piazza Salimbeni, the “Casino dei Nobili,” in front of Palazzo Chigi Saracini, and in Piazza del Duomo, to perform flag-waving. Then they gather in Piazza del Duomo (courtyard of the Palazzo del Governo) and move in order to reach Piazza del Campo. The Historical Parade enters the Piazza around 5:00 pm.


After the Historical Parade, a firecracker explosion announces the horses’ exit from the Entrone. Each jockey is given a bullwhip with which they can encourage their horse or hinder their opponents during the race.

Then they approach the point of the “mossa” where two ropes have been stretched, and they are called to line up between them. The entry order is determined by chance: inside a special mechanism with a long neck attached to an oval container, ten wooden balls (painted with the colors of the Contrade, like the ones children use to play) are inserted.

When the bottle is overturned, the balls randomly align along its neck, determining the starting order. The process is repeated three times, allowing the Mossiere (race referee) to use two reserve starts if the conditions for a regular start are not met. The Contrade are called between the ropes in the order of extraction, while the tenth one will enter with a running start (only when deemed appropriate), thus deciding the moment of the start. At this point, the Mossiere will lower the front rope, starting the Carriera (the race).

If the start is not valid, a firecracker explosion will stop the horses, and they will have to return to the starting point. The horses must complete three laps of the track, covering about 1000 meters, and only the first to arrive is awarded the glory of victory, sanctioned by three judges of the race. Even a riderless horse, called “scosso,” can bring victory to its Contrada.


JUNE 30 – JULY 1 – JULY 2 (Provaccia)


8:20 am – warning

8:40 am – Start of clearing the track

9:00 am – Horses exit from the Podestà Courtyard

JUNE 29 – JUNE 30 – JULY 1 (General Trial) AFTERNOON TRIALS

6:45 pm – warning

7:15 pm – Start of clearing the track

7:45 pm – Horses exit from the Podestà Courtyard


3:30 pm – first warning

4:00 pm – second warning

4:40 pm – Start of clearing the track

5:15 pm – Carabinieri Cavalry Parade

5:20 pm – Historical Parade enters the “Campo”

7:30 pm – Horses exit from the Podestà Courtyard

Practical advice

On the afternoon of July 1st, the General Trial takes place. On this occasion, we recommend entering the square by 6:00 pm if you want to see it from the inside. On the day of the Palio, instead, we recommend entering Piazza del Campo by 5:00 pm.

Below are the rules to be respected inside the Piazza:

On July 2nd, access to the square is allowed from Via Duprè starting at 4:30 pm until the maximum number allowed is reached, but no later than 6:30 pm.

  • Minors under 10 years old are not allowed to enter the square, even if accompanied by adults.
  • Bringing dogs is prohibited.
  • Bringing chairs or stools, strollers, and similar objects into the square is prohibited.
  • Bringing containers with caps, water bottles, or frozen drinks into the square is prohibited.
  • Standing on the small columns is prohibited while watching the trials or the Palio.
  • Passing through or lingering around the verrocchio, behind the stage of the extras, behind the mattresses of S. Martino, under the platforms, inside the fence of Fonte Gaia, or at the exit of Casato is prohibited.

I Comuni di Terre di Siena