When thinking about going to the bareback Palio race in Siena there are some factors that you should take into account when making your choice.
Many would recommend a hotel in central Siena so that you are close to the action and the celebration where you can pop out and see everything but you don’t have far to go to gain a rest. Others would argue that it is better to be out of Siena as the celebrations and drumming can last into the very early hours. Combined with that you need to consider the question of cars – parking in Siena is tricky so if you are driving in from an outside hotel you will probably need to park near the train station and then walk the 20 mins (including a public escalator) to the centre.
It is likely that you will be driving to Siena yourself as the nearest airports are Florence (about 1¼ hr drive) and Pisa (2½ hr drive). Therefore if you are booking a hotel in central Siena you need to choose a hotel which has its own car parking.
Access to Activities around the Palio
Much of the fun of attending the Palio is to become involved in the events leading up to the Palio. This is where unique access can only be gained via people with the “right” contacts. Attending one of the good luck open air Contrada Dinners on the streets hosted by the different Contrada to celebrate and anticipate the Palio race scheduled for the following day is a lively event and a great way to get a “feel” for the passion the Siena people have for the Palio. If you can gain entry to one of the Contrada Museums you will indeed be lucky as these are unique rooms which will give you a great insight into the Palio.
The View of the Palio itself
The race is run around the central square (Campo) and can be seen from all of the privately owned balconies and windows overlooking the square. Many of the locals hire out their balconies and windows for Palio viewing and put in benches for you to sit or stand on so all can see. Each view is unique and different as they are in 14th C buildings and you should also consider whether walking upstairs is an issue as lifts are in short supply! The Palio can also be watched from the centre of the Campo though thousands in the crowds necessitate an early arrival to gain a good spot, standing throughout both the wait and the Palio and the reality of being crushed with a lot of people! There are also Grandstands all around the track in which people can watch the event.
Things to take into consideration are
Once you have decided what is important to you the next stage is to find someone who can offer you the solutions. An early discussion is critical as the best options tend to go faster. July tends to sell faster than August so you have a bit more time to find the right position if you are looking to go in August, but of course August has a tendency to be hotter!
At Weekend a la Carte we are delighted to have just gained access for one of our clients to what is considered one of the best positions in the whole of the Campo. Right above the Mossa the window has a perfect view of the whole track. The Palio (the banner that is won) is hung just metres beneath the window – if you stretch out your arm you can almost touch it. It’s incredible to watch the Contradaioli who literally climb up to you to claim their prize.
If you are looking to go to the Palio the important thing is to start investigating early as the options and choices are so much wider. Click here for more information on our Palio break