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Medieval Racing: Palio

Palio spend in different cities of Italy. But the most popular horse racing held in Siena. Although the holiday held in Ferrara, is considered the most ancient.
Medieval Racing: Palio

According to sources, it was in Ferrara that the first horse races took place in 1279, when the city council adopted a law approving the tradition of folk holidays and festivals that originated in 1259.
Siena is an unusual beauty of the city (no wonder Siena is considered one of the most beautiful cities of Toxana), where all roads lead to the main square of Campo. It is this square that becomes twice a year (July 2 and August 16) into the arena for the craziest, spectacular, gambling, and sacred medieval competition for the Tuscans – the horse Palio in Siena. Historians believe that the races in this city as the main action began to be held in honor of major holidays since 1310. In the XVI century. the townspeople were carried away by the bullfight, and after its ban by Ferdinand I Medici in 1590, the Sienese horse racing came to the fore again. They were held at Piazza del Campo. At first it was donkey racing, then buffalo. After several serious injuries in 1650, they were banned.

Spectacular horse racing in Siena
The main prize of the competition is the silk banner “Palio”, a celebrity and universal respect for which the counter fights are fighting – the ancient districts of the city. Each quarter has its own coat of arms, flag, motto, colors and temple.
Horse racing in Siena usually lasts no more than 1.5 minutes. However, in the process of preparing for them, each contrade re-shakes up their costumes in the color of their flag, rehearses the solemn procession ceremony the day before and on Palio’s day, and re-develops a strategy for the behavior of the jockey and the horse at a distance. The distance is 1 km or 3 circles around the perimeter of Piazza del Campo. To prevent the horses from immediately damaging their hooves, the famous Siena earth is brownish-yellow in color, which is sprinkled with sand on top, and then rammed.

intense and dangerous jumps
These jumps are unusual in that the jockey controls a horse only with the help of a bridle and halter, a saddle and stirrups are not allowed. Because of this, at many sharp turns many riders do not hold and fly out of the saddle, but this is not considered a loss, no one loses hope, because in Palio everything depends on the horse, it is she who wins the jumps. If a horse without a jockey independently reaches the finish line, then the victory will be counted.
A horse without a rider In the process of racing, the jockeys can do almost everything – they have the right to push, interfere with the opponent to drive and even try to throw the rider to the ground. Often the jumps ended for riders with heavy injuries, and for horses with broken legs.
Jockeys and their horses, who are clearly unlucky.

And another feature of the Siena Palio is the complete impunity of the winners over the next few days after the races. What on other days would be considered hooliganism, immediately after the Palio is not punished in any way, law enforcement agencies simply turn a blind eye to it.
Palio winner

This is what gambling, crazy, cherished and sacred for any Tuscan, equestrian Palio is.

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