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Strolling around the history: “Contrada”, myths and legends


The Baptism of the Contrada

Being a member meant to born in the territory. In ancient times, everyone was born in private houses and if the family lived in a district other than his own, the woman was brought to give birth in the home of friends or relatives residing in the territory of the Contrada in which they wanted to give birth to the child. If the woman could not move, people gathered even the land of the district and scattered under the bed where the birth was to take place. That’s makes you understand the strict link between men of the Contrada, a link that lasts the whole life long. Since nowadays, people are moving from the center to the suburbs, from the 50’s every child receive the Contrada Baptism, a secular cerimony, which aims to "sanctify" the perpetual membership to their district.

The Sign of the contrada

The hanky is a square of cloth (originally of cotton, polyester often, but also of the highest quality silk) with the colors and symbols of a Contrada. Introduced in the twentieth century, even before the introduction of the "Contrada baptism", it is not unusual to find contradaioli with beautiful handkerchiefs sewn, embroidered and hand-painted. The handkerchief is a remnant of the Contrada. Follows him throughout life, from birth until death. It is a clear symbol of belonging and connection to their own territory and, by extension, to the city itself. It takes generally tied around the neck, but you can see him wearing in another way.

Legends and history of Contradas

The history of the Palio goes around the disputes and rivalry against contradas. One of the example is Aquila against Pantera or Chiocciola against Tartuca. If you want to understand what a contrada is, visit the museum that every contrada has: a real world you should not miss! Legends and myths are the heart of contradas, here’s are some of the most amazing. The Contrada of the Chiocciola is so called “affogasanti” due to an incident that occurred in the late nineteenth century, when the jockey Mugnaino, during the Palio of 2 July 1896, was overtaken in the final, provoking the ire of another contrada member, such Cecco Francesco Dominici, that within the stable, tear 'image of S. Antonio and fling 'with anger in the pit. In subsequent years, Chiocciola often losing in the final, and many gave the blame to St. Anthony drowned.

Women and the Palio

In the history the first one was the 15th years old, Virginia Tecci who defended the colors of the Dragon with courage, finishing second, arousing the enthusiasm of all the people of Siena. The second one was Percina, Rosanna Bonelli said "Diavola," a young Sienese daughter of a famous writer, in 1957. Palio is the Event in town, the best time to discover and live all this histories, but, just in case, you can visit the contradas with a guided tour, just ask to the Staff of Hotel Athena.

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