Last week I returned from an exhausting 24 hour period in Siena when I went to review the Palio balconies, windows and hotels that we offer for the Palio. Of course others from Weekend a La Carte have visited and reviewed but this was my first time and I am thrilled with the Palio positions we have managed to secure. I was expecting them to be good – but they are fabulous! Balconies and Windows right on the Campo which offer first class positions with which to view the race and take in the atmosphere and passion of the Italians! With different positions across the Campo we have managed to deliver angles to different clients – some can even see the Mossa beforehand.
The two main hotels we offer are super and in very different ways. Both are within the city walls and extremely central.
The Palazzo Ravizza Siena is a charming converted Palazzo with oodles of character, a grand piano for anyone to play and the most stunning gardens overlooking the Tuscan countryside – a perfect place to take a drink and look at the view.
Hotel Athena Siena is a more modern offering with a restaurant and also has a wonderful Terrace overlooking the gorgeous Tuscan countryside – a superb place to chill and imbibe the atmosphere – this will be slightly quieter on Palio day.
Both are managed by excellent teams focused on making sure you have a wonderful stay. I would be hard pressed to know which one to recommend.
The Palio consists of a bare back race around the Campo between 10 out of the 17 Contradas at any one time. The Contradas are based on districts and you belong to a Contrada based on where you were born. Our Palio partner gave me the Pantera (Panther) colours (Based on the fact that my first night in Siena was in the Pantera district) so now I will be supporting Pantera in the upcoming Palio races. We discussed the machinations and politics of the Palio many times during my visit and I think I may understand about a tenth of it now! – 700 years of history is hard to unravel in a day!
The streets where the Contrada Dinners take place are full of character, churches and atmosphere – with an average of 1,500 people at each of the 10 Contrada dinners the night before the Palio the atmosphere must be electric! What an amazing way to wish the Jockeys luck!
I visited many restaurants and would certainly recommend Cane & Gatto Siena restaurant run by a graceful elderly couple delivering mouth-watering and beautifully presented food. The Antica Osteria da Divo Siena restaurant offers delicious traditional Italian food served in a wonderful atmosphere of alcoves in the underground Tufa which Siena is built on.
Please click here to see our Palio break where we offer a package including Palio Balcony viewing, the privilege of attending the Contrada Dinner and a Guided Introduction to the Palio as well as Hotel, private transfers and Flights.