Car rental with driver Siena and Chianti - Private tours
SIENA is a mystical, refined city of art and architecture with a passionate and generous soul, welcoming visitors with its motto inscribed above the Camollia Gate: "cormagis tibi Seni pandit" (Siena opens its hearteven wider to you).
This Gothic city of yllowish-brown buildings-the "burnt Sienna" of paintboxes has always held a unique fascination for visitors. Set on three steep hills of reddish clay and endosed by extensive
PIAZZA DEL CAMPO
The "Campo" is one of the most famous squares in the world, and the harmony of its buildings has rarely, if ever, been surpassed. It is a pink and white "shell" or "fan" set on a slight slope and is a consummate example of the "drawing room squares" which are one of the main sights in any Italian city, representing rather less the point of convergence of city streets and rather more an enclosure in which life and history are lived to the full. It was in the Campo over the centuries that the great proclamations were heard by the citizens, that the factions whose fighting tore the city apart confronted one another, and that St
The "Palio delle Contrade" in Sienna
The palio is the banner awarded as the prize on a horse race. The festivities, which date from the 13C, are the most famous of their kind in Italy and are a splendid sight. The race is held twice a year on 2 July and 16 August, but only 10 "contrade"take part in each competition so the 17 have to take it in turn to participate. During the days of preparation intrigue is rife and betting is heavy. The streets are draped in the colors of each "contrada," young people practice throwing the flag, the edge of the Piazza del Campo is covered with sand to form the race track and dangerous corners are protected with mattresses. The outer edge is lined with tiers of seats but the
walls, the city is overlooked by the elegant tower of the Palazzo Pubblico and the black-and-white striped cathedral, which rise above the rooftops and are visible for miles.
Bernardino addressed the people from a pulpit erected in front of the Palazzo Pubblico and railed against the frivolity of Sienese women and the destructive conflicts between rival parties.
In the mid-14C the square was paved with bricks within an outer circle of cobblestones. On the southeast side, also in brick and stone, is the long facade of the Palazzo Pubblico. From its center radiate eight white lines dividing the Campo into nine sections, which symbolize the government "of the Nine" ie nine magistrates from among the craftsmen, traders and bankers who brought the city its greatest period of prosperity (1 287-1355).
At the top of the square is the Fonte Gaia (Fountain of Joy), so-called because of the general joy that accompanied its inauguration in 1348. In 1419 it was decorated with marble panels by Jacopo della Quercia, which have been replaced by copies made in 1868. The originals are currently undergoing restoration and those finished are displayed in Santa Maria dell Scala.
Behind the fountain beneath a smail tower (right) is the 13C Sansedoni Palace which was extensively altered at the end of the 1 9C.
center, from which anybody can watch the race free of charge, is left open. Feelings run very high in the ast two days before the race when there is a solemn drawing of Iots in the Campo to see which horses are assigned to the participating "contrade." The animals are then carefully prepared; doping is allowed. If a horse dies, the "contrada" that it represented has to retire from the race but its standard, set at half-mast, is entitled to take part in the opening procession and the horse's hooves are solemnly carried on a silver tray. The jockeys (fantini) are accommodated within the contrade and watched day and night to ensure that they are not paid by a competitor to lose the race.
On the morning of the race a Mass is said in the church of each contrada and horse and rider are blessed. In the afternoon there is a Iavish procession around the Campo involving all the representatives of the 17 contrade dressed in 15C costume and carrying their emblems while the fiag-bearers (alfieri) brandish their pennants with great skill. Behind them come six black horses mounted by riders in mourning in memory of six contrade that no longer exist: the Viper, Rooster, Oak Tree, Sword, Bear and Lion, and that were probably taken over by more powerful contrade. At the very end of the procession is the triumphal chariot, built according to the design of the ancient carroccio. The town guard of crossbowmen brings up the rear.
The high spot of the festival occurs at the end of the afternoon when the famous "corsa al palio" is run. This is a dangerous horse race in which no holds are barred and it is all over within a matter of minutes, the time it takes the jockeys to ride bareback three times round the Campo.
The winner receives the banner (palio) of the day, hence the name of the race; the banner bears a representation of the Virgin Mary which is painted by a leading artist especially for the occasion. After the race all the "contrade" continue the festivities in their streets and community centers where the dinner may be an occasion for feasting or bitterness depending on the result.