Siena :: The city of Palio

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I didn´t spend much time in Siena, 1 day and 1 night only. In the end it is so little, that we decided not to stay so long.

Siena was settle between 900-400 BC and was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Siena is famous for being a medieval cityscape, for its cuisine and art, and for a horse race called Palio, held twice a year.

The emblem of Siena is a she-wolf from who there are 2 infants suckling, Romulus and Remus. According to the legend, Siena was founded by Senius, son of Remus, that was brother of Romulus, the one who founded Rome. That´s why you can find statues of Romulus and Remus suckling from the she-wolf all over the place in Siena.

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The old-town is incredibly beautiful, and you can find a lot of interest points. The main sights, in my opinion would be:

Il Duomo di Siena: it is a medieval church, dedicated to the Holy Mary. The Cathedral was completed in 1263 and has the shape of a Latin cross with a projecting transept, a dome and a bell tower. The dome rises from a hexagonal base with columns to support. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with a red marble addition on the façade. Black and white are the colors of Siena, linked to black and white horses of the legendary city´s founders Senius and Aschius.

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Fonte Gaia: this fountain was built to celebrate the water supply to the city, that begun in 1342. The long section of the fountain is decorated at the centre with a Madonna and Child, surrounded by statues of the Virtues. The fountain is placed in one of the corners of the Piazza del Campo.

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Piazza del Campo: this open site was a marketplace established before the 13 century and now it is the principal public space of Siena´s old town. It is paved in fishbone-patterned red brick with ten lines of travertine, which divide the piazza into nine sections, radiating from the mouth of the gavinone in front of the Palazzo Publico.  The number of divisions are held to be symbolic of the rule of The Nine, who laid out the campo and governed Siena between 1292-1355. It was and remains the focal point of public life in Siena. From this place, eleven narrow shaded streets radiate into the City, and this is the place where The Palio is helded.

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The Palio race: “The Palio di Siena (known locally simply as Il Palio) is a horse race that is held twice each year, on July 2 and August 16, in Siena,Italy. Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards. The Palio held on July 2 is named Palio di Provenzano, in honour of the Madonna of Provenzano, who has a church in Siena. The Palio held on August 16 is named Palio dell’Assunta, in honour of the Assumption of Mary. A pageant, the Corteo Storico, precedes the race, which attracts visitors and spectators from around the world. The race itself, in which the jockeys ride bareback, circles the Piazza del Campo, on which a thick layer of dirt has been laid, three times and usually lasts no more than 90 seconds. It is common for a few of the jockeys to be thrown off their horses while making the treacherous turns in the piazza, and indeed, it is usual to see unmounted horses finishing the race without their jockeys.” (from Wikipedia)

I personally haven´t been in this event, unfortunately, but I would love to, someday.

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As we spent too little time at Siena, we only had the opportunity to go to one restaurant called Gallo Nero. It is very traditional, located in the old town, very near to Pizza del Campo, and has a wonderful “Coniglio alla cacciatora” (means rabbit alla cacciatore). I don´t like rabbit meat very much, for me it tastes like chicken and it is much more expensive, but this one was the best rabbit alla cacciatore I´ve ever eaten in my life.

Captura de pantalla 2013-12-13 a las 09.17.46Gallo Nero: Via Porrione, 65-67, Siena

This is all for today folks! hope you enjoyed!

Have a nice weekend!


Carolina B.

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