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Behind Palio: living the contrada’s life

For a foreigner is really very hard if not impossible to understand what’s behind the ceremony, the legends and the traditions that every Contrada keeps on living since ages. If you have the chance to meet a local or to have a friend born in the Contrada, you will have the luck to live some of the very special traditions of the Contrada people. You do not choose a Contrada, but you belong to the Contrada in which you were born for the rest of your life, working for it and giving all your resources (included free time and sometimes money).

The Contrada is a huge community, a family other than your natural family, that can help you in every situation and which is also a place to meet other people (always belonging to the same Contrada), find your partner and build your own life. The rivalry is part of the life and, especially when the day of Palio gets near, people are keeping their secrets, even avoiding to say hello if they meet a person of the opponent Contrada.

The Palio is only the final event of a yearlong preparation that has its most important moments one week before when Siena becomes a very colorful and full town, with every Contrada organizing a very big party in the main streets where everyone is invited to enjoy before the race.

A common moment to stay together but also a night where Siena returns to the ancient life: every single little streets is full of locals but also tourist, trying to get in touch with the real soul of the people of Contradas. If you are in Italy at the end of June or better in the first week of July, this will be a wonderful experience to taste and smell the old Siena.

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