The last of the cities on my day trip through Tuscany was to Siena. Like San Gimigniano, Siena has great medieval architecture. The focus of Siena, though, is the Palio di Siena; a horse race whose modern version has been taking place twice a year since 1656. Two times a year thousands of people pack into the center of the track as well as the surrounding areas to watch this intense race.
10 of the cities 17 districts or Contrade’s enter a horse and rider into the competition. People take their districts seriously.
Fights are known to break out if someone talks smack about the other and hostility can build among co-workers so the horse races are essentially the two times a year that 400+ years worth of intense rivalry is released and one district wins bragging rights over all the others. They want those bragging rights.
It’s like West Side Story with a splash of Hunger Games plus…like…Hildago.
The horse races takes place July 2nd and August 16th. I was actually in Siena August 10th so I just missed the race.
But I did get to witness the result of another Siena rivalry: The Duomo di Siena.
Basically, Siena wanted one up Florence and have the best Duomo ever.
They were on their way to making the BDE (Best Duomo Ever) when a little bug started going around. That little bug ended up being the Black Plague and everything just went downhill from there. They did end up with a really great looking cathedral though.
But I’m still Team Duomo di Firenze.
Along the way I saw some very cute shops and even stopped in a candle shop with a real candle maker making candles!
I was really excited to see the candle making…it’s the little things I suppose…