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The “Palio di Siena” is the world’s most exciting horse race. It is celebrated twice each year in honor of religious holidays and has been held nearly without interruption since the days of the medieval Republic of Siena. It’s a centuries-old race between the various districts of the city in which ten horses, each representing a particular district, are ridden bareback by a jockey who races at breakneck speeds around the Piazza del Campo, surrounded by ancient buildings and cheered on by a passionate crowd of locals and tourists.

The Palio is more than a simple horse race. It’s the culmination of ongoing rivalries and competition between the districts.

A citizen belongs to their contrada first, then Siena and lastly Italy. The roots of such identification run back centuries. But the loyalty flows both ways: the contradas take care of their own. Winning the Palio earns far more than simple bragging rights. Each victory makes the district a little greater, a glory reflected onto its citizens.

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