Please note that this tour only runs twice annually in July and August.
Siena's Il Palio Horse Race, Tour and Dinner
- Limited Availability: Book early; this is a once in a lifetime experience and it only happens twice per year.
- Siena: Explore the city that was once Florence's archrival and then its ally, with its impressive cathedral, Piazza del Campo, Centro Storico, and other beloved sites.
- Il Palio: This is more than a horse race. It's life itself. Witness the time-honored tradition of the blessing of the horses, the Renaissance-costume pageant that precedes the race, and then the race itself, one that determines bragging rights among the city's different districts, or contrade.
- Dine in Piazza del Campo: Enjoy the bounty of the gourmand's paradise known as Tuscany, complete with locally sourced and produced wine, as you dine on a delicious three-course meal in the famed square.
About this Florence Tour
Following a Medieval tradition of games and combative contests, Siena's Il Palio horse race takes place twice during the summer, on July 2nd and August 16th, each one the culmination of four days of celebrations. The citizens of Siena take this event seriously. Very seriously. After all, the winning horse's district, or contrada, gets to celebrate all year long and demonstrate their victory with a showy display of colorful banners and commemorations.
Il Palio is quite a spectacle, a complex event with rules, traditions, and customs that date back centuries. When it's time for the events, Siena swells to a million visitors who jam the Piazza del Campo in the city's historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dirt and tuff cover the brick square to form a temporary track, and 10 of the 17 contrade participate to minimize accidents and injuries. Nonetheless, bareback-riding jockeys continue to fall off their steeds, and sometimes the horse that finishes first has lost its rider. No matter, he still claims victory.
On this tour, which departs from Florence, you'll ride in air-conditioned comfort through the gorgeous Tuscany landscape to Siena. Embark on a walking excursion through the ancient town, and see the famous cathedral and the other notable points of interest. You'll have the privilege to witness the astounding blessing of the horses. Then you'll be escorted to the main square where you can find a spot, watch a magnificent Renaissance-era parade, and finally enjoy the race itself with its three frenetic laps around the square. Whoop with joy as the citizens of the winning contrada proclaim their horse and jockey as heroes.
As evening unfolds, you'll savor a locally inspired Tuscan meal with wine, most likely the region's own Chianti, and reflect on all you've seen. There's just no beating tradition.
The seventeen contrade of Siena
Take a look around this picturesque Tuscan city and you'll see colorful street signs, emblems, and banners: Eagle, Snail, Wave, Panther, Forest, Tortoise, Owl, Unicorn, Shell, Tower, Ram, Caterpillar, Dragon, Giraffe, Porcupine, She-wolf, and Goose. These signify Siena's districts, or contrade, and they date back to the Middle Ages. For residents, every important event takes place within one's contrada, and every contrada has its own museum, fountain, baptismal font, and motto. Of these 17 contrade, 10 take part in each race. Who will win when you're there?
Please make your way inside Santa Maria Novella train station, Florence, to the front of the pharmacy with the green cross, to meet your tour guide.
In need of retail therapy after your tour? Your guide can advise you where to go in search of that "must have" souvenir to take home. Be sure to have some local currency and a backpack for all your great buys.
Travelers must be able to stand still for long periods of time and walk without difficulties.
Cultural, Adventure, Scenic, Full Day
English, French, German, Spanish
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated strenuous. Travelers must consider their physical fitness level and medical history when determining whether this tour is appropriate. Travelers with pre-existing neck, back, knee and/or shoulder injuries, cardiac conditions, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, other heart or respiratory conditions or any other medical condition must take particular caution when selecting a tour categorized as "strenuous". If you have concerns, you must consult with your personal physician before engaging in any activity that may be too strenuous for you.
Suitable for travelers 3 years of age and older. Under 18 years old? Sorry you won't be able to sample wine on this tour. Bring photo ID as proof of age if asked.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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