As a travel agency with property rentals in Tuscany - one of the more repeated questions from our clients is - "How can we get tickets to the Palio in Siena?"
While some of you may have your own connections in Siena for Palio tickets, chances are they are not the actual ticket owners. If you don't have any connections, it may be because you have found that getting Palio tickets proves to be a very difficult tasks.
Our Palio ticket options are now available for both July and August races. Because we take our tickets now and only from the ticket owners, we are able to respond immediately on availabilities to any request you may have.
Location: MOSSA (start line) Balcony
Price: Euro 640.00
BOOK IT NOW!
Location: MOSSA (start line) Balcony
Price: Euro 470.00
BOOK IT NOW!
Location: CASATO Balcony
Price: Euro 550.00
BOOK IT NOW!
Location: FONTE GAIA Balcony
Price: Euro 550.00
BOOK IT NOW!
Location: FONTE GAIA Balcony
Price: Euro 420.00
BOOK IT NOW!
Location: MOSSA Palco
Price: Euro 590.00
BOOK IT NOW!
Location: CASATO Palco
Price: Euro 520.00
BOOK IT NOW!
Location: FONTE GAIA Palco
Price: Euro 520.00
BOOK IT NOW!
Trial Race + Contrada Dinner Package
Price: Euro 240.00 per person
NOTE: Light Package prices are with the Casato Balcony
BOOK IT NOW!
Trial Race + Contrada Dinner Package + Contrada Museo Tour
Price: Euro 275.00 per person
NOTE: Light Package prices are with the Casato Balcony
BOOK IT NOW!
BOOKING FEE: Euro 20 per reservation.
PAYMENT: Total amount is payable at the time of booking. It may be paid by credit card. Upon receipt of your payment we will issue a confirmation document.
Ticket Delivery: Actual Palio Tickets for the race will be given to you in Siena at a predetermined meeting point, along with our Siena contact information. We do not mail Palio tickets for several logistical reasons. Actual tickets are provided in Siena for the respective races (July 2 or August 16th) to avoid any problems (i.e. lost in the regular mail; forgotten at home).
Customer Cancellation and Refunds: If you are unable to attend the Palio and if a written cancellation notice is received and if another buyer can be found for the TICKETS or TICKET PACKAGE by either party, then the Company will provide a refund for the selling price of the TICKETS or PACKAGE, net of any transaction costs so incurred, including but not limited to credit card service charges, reservation transfer fees and or commissions.
Rescheduled Race: In the case of rain (sufficient to impair the conditions of the race track), the Palio race will be rescheduled to run on the following day; or if the race is postponed to a date later in the year, your tickets are valid for any rescheduled race and are not refundable if you cannot attend the rescheduled race. Cancellations of any trial race, or the Contrada Dinner or City Tour due to weather conditions are non-refundable.
Travel Insurance Protection: To cover costs associated with your reservation, the Company encourages you to consider purchasing a travel insurance policy.
General Conditions & Disclaimers: Confirmation and payment of any reservation constitutes acceptance of the financial agreements between the Company and the Customer and the provisions of this agreement are in effect. The Company is acting as a tour operator responsible for arranging reservations for the services as outlined in the website intuscany.net. All suppliers providing transportation, guided tours, and lodging for the Company have no legal affiliation, nor are they employees of the Company. The Company assumes no responsibility or liability for any claims, damages, expenses or other financial loss, whether to person or property, arising from, but not limited to, injury, accident, death, delay, alteration or inconvenience, by whatever cause, including airline scheduling, default, strike, terrorism, war, hostility, civil disturbance, quarantine, pandemic or resulting directly or indirectly from any other acts of nature. Under no circumstances is the Company to be construed as a Common Carrier under contract for safe carriage of the passenger or his/her baggage and personal belongings.
What are the dates of the Palio?
The Palio in Siena is held twice a year; on July 2 and August 16 (no matter the day of the week). In total, the event is held over 4 days.
Where is the race run for the Palio in Siena?
Since the mid 1600s the Palio di Siena has been run in the city’s famous city ‘square’, Piazza del Campo. The piazza is not in a typical square or rectangular shape, but more in the shape of sea shell, curved at the top, flat on the bottom. The race is run (3 laps) in a clockwise direction around the piazza on the clay “track” that is layed down in the campo a few days before the race.
Where are Palio tickets located?
Our individual Grandstand Seat tickets are in the shaded sections of the campo. Balcony and Window positions are in all areas of the campo. Our tickets are offered in the 4 locations as follows:
Mossa (Start/Finish Line): Grandstand Seats, Balcony Seats (and Balcony Standing), Private Windows (each suitable for up to 3 persons)
Fonte Gaia: Grandstand Seats, Balcony Seats (and Balcony Standing), Private Windows (each suitable for up to 3 persons)
Casato: Grandstand Seats, Balcony Seats, Private Windows (each suitable for up to 4 persons)
San Martino: Private Balcony (suitable for up to 20 persons) or Private Windows (each suitable for up to 4 persons)
Are the Palio Tours tickets located in the shaded areas of the campo?
Mossa, Fonte Gaia and Casato are in the shade of the campo at the time of the race. For more details on ticket locations read the question/answer above.
From the Grandstands are we able to see to the far side as the race as it moves around the track?
Yes, given the campo has a natural downward slope (going away from the grandstands towards the Torre del Mangia) you are able to see the race and the action as it moves around to the far side for the 3 laps it takes to complete.
Tell us more about the balcony positions?
For balconies we offer both seated as well as standing positions. Typically the seats are in the form or individual chairs or in some cases benches and are placed in front of a step-up bench used for the standing positions. With either ticket (seated or standing) the positions are assigned – in other words if you decide to leave your position and for instance step inside the adjoining apartment or shop you will not loose your position on the balcony to someone else.
Is it possible to have a private balcony or window?
Yes – Balconies or individual windows can be reserved for private use; naturally it depends on the size of your group. Please contact us with any custom requests.
Are there refreshments, drinks and or food available? Is there access to restrooms?
Our Apartment/Window options do provide for drink refreshment (wine, water and or juices), plus an assortment of food items and snacks. Certain Balcony locations do provide some drink refreshment and or food items or snacks, depending on the particular balcony; however, the drink options are limited usually to sodas and or water and juices; no alcohol is served or allowed to be brought in. Consider as you might with any modern sports arena or stadium, when you wish a drink or food items, you step out to a concession stand; in the same way you can step off the balcony and exit the shop to spend time in one of the many bars and or cafes that just outside the Campo for your food, wine or other alcohol refreshments. With either (apartments or balcony) access to a restroom is either directly in the adjoining space or just outside the space. The Grandstands (which represent approximately 80% of all reserved tickets) do not provide refreshments or access to a restroom, as the restaurants and or bars in the buildings behind the grandstand seating are not open during the time of the Palio; only before and after the time of the parade/race are they open for business. With Grandstand seats we suggest to visit your favorite bar and cafe to enjoy a pre-race drink and or snack; as well as take car of any bathroom needs.
What happens if it rains?
If there is rain on the day of the Palio (July 2nd or August 16), making the track conditions not suitable to run the race, then the race will be rescheduled for the next day (July 3rd or August 17) or even the day after if necessary. Your tickets, are good for the race whichever day it is run. Unfortunately there are are no refunds if you are not able to stay over for the rescheduled race. Tickets for a respective Trial Race can be honored on the mornning or evening race the day after a cancellation, subject to availabilities. Tickets for the Contrada Dinner are not refundable if the activity is cancelled due to bad weather conditions or otherwise cancelled by the respective Contrada, since this activity cannot be rescheduled.
If we cannot make our trip, what is the cancellation / refund policy policy?
Palio Tickets are non-refundable. However, resale provisions are given in case of cancellations – please see our Terms and Conditions for further details in regard to Tickets and Package reservations for the Palio.
When will we receive our tickets?
Actual Palio Tickets for the race and tickets for the Contrada dinner will be given to you in Siena. The specific location for “pick-up” or delivery and the time for receiving your tickets will be given in with your time line summary, in most cases the location will be your hotel. Our tour director and other company personnel are in Siena for each race and will be in available during the days of the festival in order to help you with tickets or other festival related issues. We do not mail Palio tickets for several logistical reasons, primarily to avoid any problems (i.e. lost in the regular mail; forgotten at home, etc.).
If we don’t purchase tickets, will we be able to see the race from the square/street?
You cannot see the race or the historical parade that precedes it unless you are in a reserved ticket position or in the the center of the campo, where you can stand (possibly in the sun) for the 3 plus hours prior to the race. Our ticket positions are in the shaded sections of the campo.
What time does the race start and end?
The time to be in your reserved ticket position is by 4:45 pm; in most instances the race/event will over by 8:15 pm.
What happens after the race?
After the winning horse/jockey crosses the finish line, a full celebration of the winning Contrada will begin (as one could expect). Once this celebration starts there is no time limit; eventually the winning Contrada members will make their way with their winning horse and jockey to leave the campo, passing Fonte Gaia and exiting the campo at San Martino. In July, the winning Contrada take their celebration to the Church of the Provenzano; in August the initial celebration finds its way to the Duomo (Siena Cathedral). Eventually the winning Contrada will make their way back to their own neighborhood to continue their celebrations. These celebitory actions are not “closed” to the public.
Does the Palio ticket allow you to witness the horse blessings?
The horse blessings are a featured activity with your package; however, a ticket is in fact not actually needed to witness a horse blessing. They take place in the early afternoon on the day of the Palio (approx 2:30pm) in the respective churches of each Contrada. As part of your ticket pacakge, you will receive suggestions on which blessing to witness and where these are located.
Is parking available if we arrive by car for Trial races or on the Day of the Palio?
Yes, there are defined pay-to-park (blue line) areas and also pay-to-park covered parking garages around the perimeter of the historical city. From these areas you would then walk in to the city center. With the many people arriving, naturally the earlier you arrive, the more chance of finding a spot to park.
Are there other activities or celebrations in conjunction with the race?
There are several activities to be aware of. On the day of the race (July 2 or August 16) the ‘horse blessings’ begin at about 2:30pm (2pm in August) in the respective churches of each Contrada. This activity is free, but obviously you will give way to any Contrada member before entering the church; the ‘in city’ parade begins after the hourse blessings; the historical parade begins in the campo just after 5:00pm (a little earlier in August); the historical parade lasts approx 2 hours; the race gets ready to begin after the parade is completed. After the race by tradition, the winning Contrada will leave in celebration from the campo to go first the Church of Provenzano (July race) or the Duomo (August race). Afterwards they will proceed to their own neighborhood church and for more celebrations.
Is there a required attire for the different functions i.e. contrada dinner, city tour, race, etc?
There is no particular “dress code” for any of the functions/activities. It is basically casual clothing and according to the weather and tempature. However, our suggestion, NO beach wear (“ie. tank tops, flip flops), in particular for the contrada dinner.
Our children will join us on this trip - can they attend the Palio? Are there discounts for children?
Yes, children can attend, but suggest the minimum age to consider is 5 years. Unfortunately, discounts for Palio tickets are not able to be offered for children.
I have a small child - can they sit on my lap while we are in our seats?
Sorry it is not possible. This is primarily due to lack of sufficient space in either the reserved grandstands or seated balcony positions, as well as for general safety concerns. However, a ticket option that can work well for families with smaller/younger children is with one of our apartments with windows overlooking the campo square.
Will food be served during the Palio or should we bring food?
Our Balcony options will serve some drink refreshments (sodas, juices and or water, depending on the particular balcony) and or snack food items (again depending on the balcony) in the adjoining shop (or apartment) during the two-hour parade that precedes the race. Our Window ticket options do provide an assortment of light food and drink refreshments, (in some locations wine, water and juices. Therefore, with either of these options it is not necessary to bring your own food and it is otherwise requested not to bring any food items, additional wine, or alcoholic drinks of any kind in glass bottles. For Grandstand reserved seating (depending on security measure in place) you are permitted to bring your own beverages in plastic bottles; possibly some light food is also permitted, but in either case these items cannot be carried in coolers or other large containers.
What is featured in the City / Contrada museum tour; and how long does it last?
The city tour lasts about 1.5 to 2 hours and includes the major highlights of Siena, including the most unique part of the tour, a visit to one of the Contrada Museums. Each Contrada (17) has their own museum, which contains many historical and artistic pieces, representing the history of the Contrada and Siena. One of the items of interest are the victory banner taken by the Contrada when it wins a Palio. During the Palio, only through a special reservation request can one access these museum treasures. Our hotel/ticket package provides you this special reservation.
What is the ‘Contrada Dinner’ and who attends?
Known to the Sienese as the ‘Cena Prova Generale‘, each of the 10 Contrada who will participate in the race will hold and invitation-only dinner in Siena the night before (thus on either July 1st or August 15th). The setting for each dinner is outdoors in a special street or piazza within the respective Contrada (district). Depending on the size of the Contrada, some dinners are served in this fashion for well over a 1,000 Contrada members and their guests. The dinners are by invitation only (you cannot arrive in Siena and simply walk up to purchase a ticket). The dinner while of course festive is also a way to raise money to support the financial needs of the Contrada. The dinner is 4-courses, served with wine and of course the ambiance of a very special evening.
In which Contrada will we have our dinner?
The selection for the Contrada is naturally based on who runs (only 10 of the 17 Contrade are in any one race). We personally know individuals in many of the Contrade, so we are sure to have these very special tickets to offer to our clients. You will be informed either prior or on your arrival in Siena as to which Contrada dinner you will attend. Our tour guides and or company representatives will be at the dinner(s) we choose to attend.
What or when are the Trial Races?
There are 6 trial races (prova) during the 4 Days of the Palio. The most exciting of these are the 3 evening prove (7:00pm on June 29, 30, July 1 or August 13, 14, 15) – members of each Contrada will be in the campo to support their cause. Trial Race Tickets are optional and therefore not part of the Base Package. Of the 3 evening races, the most typical choice is the last one on either July 1st or August 15th, known as the ‘prova generale’, given it precedes the Contrada dinner (Cena Prova Generale) held later in the evening. Unlike the final race, there is not a parade or procession prior to any of the trial races; the entry time is therefore much later, recommended at 7:00pm pm. Also please note for various reasons, trial race tickets are generally not in the same location as your Palio Tickets (read more details below).
Would we be better off just watching a practice run?
The practice/trial races (prova) can be interesting, and for visitors more a tool to understand how the Palio race is conducted, but the prova in no way can be considered an equal replacement for the final race. The trial races are not for qualification; all of the 10 participants are in the race regardless of how they may finish in a practice run; they can only be eliminated if their horse is somehow injured or unable to run. And if a horse is unable to run, the Contrada does not receive a replacement; so the trial races are not run at full speed for the entire 3 laps. There is certainly a unique atmosphere during the trials (more like a pep rally for all the Contrada), but the level of intensity is no where near the same as the final race.
Can you reserve the grandstands (or balcony positions) for the Trial Races?
Typically not, since grandstand seats are taken by the different Contrada and their members. They even take many of the balconies. This leaves a only a few balconies and windows available for use for the trial race tickets. Our Trial Races tickets are located in one of our apartments that overlooks the campo. Up to 4 persons are assigned to each window. There are 4 windows in the apartment (2 windows per floor).
The main piazza in Siena, comely known as ‘Il Campo’ is still used twice a year for the well known and very ancient Palio horse race. The Palio is internationally famous and one of the best loved Italian events. It takes place every year on July 2nd and August 16th.
The Palio is run to celebrate the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary near the old houses that belonged to Provenzano Salvani in the mid 1600’s. The holy apparition was dubbed "Madonna dell'Assunta" and the very first Palio was run in her honour in 1656, on August 16th.
The other Palio, on July 2nd was run for the first time in 1701 in honour of the "Madonna di Provenzano" the patroness and advocate of Siena through all it’s tragic events. She protected the Sienese militia at the famous battle of Monteaperti against the Florentines.
The Palio is a secular historical tradition strictly connected with the origin of the Contrade of Siena (districts into which the town is divided). The Contrade are competitive in a spectacular way. Each has a seat, an oratory, a coat of arms, appellations, titles of nobility, emblems and colours, official representatives, festivities, patron Saints, protectors, their own delimited territories and their own population which consists of all those people who were born or live within the topographic limits of the district, according to the proclamation issued by Violante Beatrice of Bavaria on January 7th, 1730, at that time Governess of the town.
Originally the "Contrade" were fifty-nine, at least so it seems; now only seventeen exist, ten of which take part in the historical pageant and in the race at each Palio (seven by right and three drawn by lots).
Here is a list of their names, emblems and colours grouped into "Terzi" or "Terzieri" (in olden times the town was divided into three sections called: "Terziere di Città", "Terziere di San Martino" and "Terziere di Camollia".
Terziere di Città: AQUILA; CHIOCCIOLA; ONDA; PANTERA; SELVA; TARTUCA.
Terziere di San Martino: CIVETTA; LEOCORNO; NICCHIO; TORRE; MONTONE.
Terziere di Camollia: BRUCO; DRAGO; GIRAFFA; ISTRICE; LUPA; OCA.
The "Contrade" first appeared at the middle of the 15th century to celebrate certain solemn events. They were represented by special wooden devices shaped like animals, such as, for instance, a giraffe, a dragon, a porcupine, a she-wolf, a caterpillar, a goose etc. - worked from inside by the youngsters of the districts they represented. They were called after the animals themselves.
Very soon these associations began to organize shows of their own, such as: bull hunting (suppressed in 1590), buffalo races (only till 1650), donkey races and a game called "Giuoco delle Pugna" (still goes on today).
Preceding (besides the usual horse-races which took place in many towns of Italy to celebrate certain particular religious and civil events) the Sienese played other kinds of games, such as: Mazzascudo (mace and shield) because the players bore maces and shields; the Giorgiani in honour of San Giorgio (battles with blunt weapons); Elmora detto dei cestarelli because the players wore certain funny baskets (cestarelli) on their heads; le Pugna (punching) abolished in 1324 because the players started throwing stones at one another, then weapons and sticks were used and a real battle ensued. To re-establish order the Bishop was compelled to descend into the square with a train of priests and monks); il Pallone, a game played between the "Terzi" of the town. A huge ball was thrown from the top of the "Mangia" tower by the youngsters of one of the "Terzi" into the field of their opponents. This game was played on January 13th 1555 for Biagio di Montluc the French Marshal.
Of all these games only the Palio has survived. The preparations for this parade are slow and methodic like a liturgical procedure. Four days before the Palio trials take place in the "Campo" or main square which is turned into a racing track. A thick layer of earth is spread on the ground and a row of mattresses is placed against the walls at the dangerous corner of San Martino to protect the jockeys in case they fall.
The whole square is amazingly fit for this type of race because its shape is that of a mediaeval Roman amphitheatre closed at the base by the straight line of the Palazzo Pubblico. Besides being semicircular, this peculiar square is also funnel-shaped like the theatres of the imperial age. Eleven streets run into it though it is extremely difficult to perceive them from the middle of the square. All around the track, perched up against the walls of the houses, seats are ranged one behind and above the other. Windows, balconies and loggias, too, are made ready for the visitors; 33,000 seats in all, but they are far from sufficient and are always sold out long before the day of the race.
In the centre of the square there is room for about 28,000 people to stand, but this is not enough either and the roofs, the battlements and the cornices of the old houses looking on to the square are also crowded. There are people everywhere, even in the most unlikely places. Maria Emmett (of London, England) once said “The Palio is the most exciting five minutes of your life”.
On both the appointed days every year the "Contrade" - that is to say all the Sienese population - compete for a prize which is but a hand painted silk banner (pallium). Each year artists from far and wide submit designs in order to win the right to paint the banner for that year.
Each "Contrada" is represented by a group of young men called "Comparsa" ranged as follows: one drummer, two flag-bearers, with their flags one "Duce" or captain, two grooms, one page carrying a flag with two pages at his sides carrying the emblems of the "Contrada", the race-horse called barbero with a jockey called "barbaresco", last the jokey who is to run the race on a parade horse called "soprallasso" followed by a groom.
The historical parade is a lively display of rich mediaeval costumes which date back to the period of time from 1430 to 1480; their colours are as bright as one may fancy. The procession goes wending its way round the "Campo" square in the following order: the flag-bearer of the Commune on horseback bearing the standard of Siena (the black and white Balzana) followed by his groom, a group of macers, a group of trumpeters and musicians called "musici di Palazzo" playing on their bugles the march composed for the Palio by Pietro Formichi in 1875, the Captains, the representatives of the "Podestà" (called podesterie), the standard-bearers with the standards of the "Terzieri" of the town and of the lands belonging to the Commune called "Masse" the flag-bearers of the Corporations of Art, the captain of the peopIe (Capitano del popolo) on horseback and a group of flag-bearers with the flags of the old Republic.
Next come the representatives of the "Contrade" called comparse. The first ten are those which are to run the palio horse race; they are followed by a row of young pages bearing festoons of laurel leaves and then by the seven "Contrade" that do not run (they have no "barbero" and no jockey).
Next comes the captain of Justice (Capitano di Giustizia) riding a horse and then the representatives of the seven "Contrade" that no longer exist: Cock, Lion, Beam, Oak, Sword, Viper. Last comes the triumphal chariot (carroccio) drawn by huge oxen. In the chariot are seated the four "Provveditori di Biccherna" (administrative authority who in times of yore used to superintend public representations, the oriflamme of the Commune and the Palio to be awarded to the victor, and a group of trumpeters.
When this magnificent pageant has slowly gone round the square all the representatives go to sit on a platform raised for the purpose just beneath the windows of the "Palazzo Pubblico". When they are all seated there they look like a strange army after some most brilliant victory, or a train of heroes or of poets ready to enter Paradise. As soon as everything is quiet the flag-bearers of all the "Contrade" perform together a game with their flags called "gioco delle bandiere". They throw them high up into the air and catch them again before they touch the ground; it is a splendid, most decorative display of colours accompanied with the beating of drums, the sound of bugles and trumpets and the chimes of the big bell on top of the "Mangia" tower; the little bell on the chariot known in Siena as "Martinella" is also very active.
All this is but a prelude, a time of anxiety and expectation. when at last the horses appear and the race starts the crowd becomes delirious. Three times the jockeys goad their horses round the square and the people shout as if the town were about to fall.
The spirit of Siena is in the very colours of her "Contrade" and in all the manifestations connected with each of them, first of all the benediction of the horses and jockeys each in the church of their own "Contrada" early in the afternoon just before the Palio. It is this spirit that animates the whole event and contributes such enthusiasm and pathos to the scene.
This traditional event lasts four days of parades, religoiuse services, eating, drinking and high jinks (from the 29th of June to the 2nd of July and from the l3th to the l6th of August) and finishes in the streets of the victorious "Contrada" where the people celebrate the happy event in a most joyous way.
Whoever happens to be at Siena during those exciting days can, but join the enthusiasm of the people for the Palio and, of course, the final victory. Visitors in fact, often go roaming through the winding streets of the old town sympathizing with the "Contrada" in which they are living; they do their best to understand the alliances and rivalries between the Contrade and temporarily become fervent "contradaioli" (as the inhabitants of each Contrada are called) having much at heart the health of the race horse and of the jockey.
Only 10 of the 17 Contrade are in each race - the 7 that do not run are automatic entries for the following year, plus 3 which will be selected at random 1 month prior to the race:
- AQUILA (Eagle): a double headed eagle with imperial symbols. Colours: yellow with black and blue bands.
- CHIOCCIOLA (Snail): yellow and red with blue bands.
- ONDA (Wave): a swimming dolphin wearing a crown. White and blue.
- PANTERA (Panther): a rampant panther. Red and blue with white bands.
- SELVA (Forest): a rhinoceros bearing a huge tree hung with hunting implements. Green and orange-yellow with white bands.
- TARTUCA (Tortoise): yellow and blue.
- CIVETTA (Owl): black and red with white bands.
- LEOCORNO (Unicorn): white and orange-yellow with biue bands.
- NICCHIO (Shell): a sea-shell "Nicchio" means sea-shell. Blue with yellow and red bands.
- TORRE (Tower): an elephant with a tower on its back. Dark red with white and blue bands.
- VALDIMONTONE or simply MONTONE (Ram) a rampant ram. White and yellow with red bands.
- BRUCO (Caterpillar) a caterpillar. Colours: Yellow and green with blue bands.
- DRAGO (Dragon) a flying dragon. Red and green with yellow bands.
- GIRAFFA (Giraffe) a Giraffe. White and red.
- ISTRICE (Porcupine) a porcupine. White, red, black and blue bands.
- LUPA (She-Wolf) the Roman She-Wolf suckling the twins. Black and white with orange-yellow bands.
- OCA (Goose) a crowned goose with the cross of Savoia round its neck. White and green with red bands.