Palio di Siena

The Palio di Siena is a race like no other. This unique event only occurs twice every year on 2nd July and 16th August and attracts people from all over the world. It is not only  about the horse race itself, but the pride, pageantry and civic identity amongst the Sienese. The town of Siena is made up of seventeen ‘contrade’ or city wards who have been rivals for many years. Only ten horses are drawn for the race with jockeys riding bareback and wearing traditional colours of the contrade they represent. The night before the race, each horse is taken into their relevant contrade church to be blessed and kept away from any potential threats from other rivals. The origins of this race are medieval and date back to 1581 meaning there is a lot of history and culture surrounding this pinnacle event. Horses and jockeys run three laps around the famous ‘Piazza de Campo’ of Siena, Tuscany on a temporary sand surface and normally lasts around 75 seconds. With nail biting corners and high speeds, there is a much greater risk of riders being unseated however, an unmounted horse is still able to cross the line first and win.

Castel Monastero offers a minimum 3 night stay in the stunning setting on the one of Italy’s most beautiful regions. This ancient Monastery stands in a tiny 11th Century hamlet just 23km outside of Siena. Guests have access to an exclusive viewing point to watch the race; from the windows of a beautiful apartment situated in the square. Guests overlook a tricky 90 degree bend on the track which proves one of the biggest challenges throughout the race. Enjoy 5* hospitality with champagne, canapes and refreshments. There is also a personal guide to inform you about the incredible history and meaning behind this monumental event. After the race there are several proceedings and celebrations including flag-wavers, human towers a pageant and a huge feast.

Packages are now available from only £1,395 per person which includes a 3 night stay at the quaint italian hotel, Campo Regio Relais, located in the centre of Siena. This little hotel will make you feel a part of the Sienese way of life and experience the Palio from the heart of its origin. If you would prefer a more luxurious and relaxing get away from the excitement of the square, then simply choose our other package at £2,045 per person. Enjoy a three night stay at the luxurious and secluded Castel Monastero where you can indulge in a spa treatment and savour the delectable cuisine of local chef in partnership with  Gordon Ramsay. Enjoy your meal  with a selection of exclusive wines from the Castel Monastero vineyard. Vineyard tours are also available for those who would like to explore outside of the walls of this rural, historic retreat. Packages include return flights to Florence, airport transfers and car hire can be arranged if you wish to explore the delights of Tuscany independently.

An opportunity not to be missed and one to definitely tick off the bucket list!

Sam Hitchmough