The Extraction of the Contrade: How Ten Competitors are Chosen for the Palio

Visitors who are fortunate enough to be in Siena during the days of the Palio (by sheer accident or otherwise) are often unaware of all the preparation well prior to the event. One of the more emotional rituals takes place about six weeks prior to each summer Palio. This is known as the extraction (estrazione) … Continue reading The Extraction of the Contrade: How Ten Competitors are Chosen for the Palio

Choosing the Final Ten Horses for the Palio: An Elaborate Process!

One might wonder how horses are chosen for the Palio. The reality is that most horses offered up by their hopeful owners only have a slim chance of making it to Palio day. While more than 100 horses are often placed in contention for possible Palio consideration, only ten are allowed to race. It is … Continue reading Choosing the Final Ten Horses for the Palio: An Elaborate Process!

UNBRIDLED SPIRIT: The Untold Story of the 2018 Extraordinary Palio in Siena, Italy

Now available in paperback and ebook at numerous global online retailers. I am pleased to announce the release of my second book about Siena, the contrade, and the Palio, as of March 2020. This is available through a wide variety of retailers around the world (and on Amazon, of course). The ebook is also available, … Continue reading UNBRIDLED SPIRIT: The Untold Story of the 2018 Extraordinary Palio in Siena, Italy

The Morning Trial Experience: What to Expect

This post is inspired by a recent question on TripAdvisor about what to expect from a morning trial during the "days of the Palio". (Although similar in their approch, I will write about evening trials separately. For now, please see TOM'S TIPS within my Palio Schedule page.) The morning trials "officially" begin at 9:00 in … Continue reading The Morning Trial Experience: What to Expect

Florence (Firenze) to Siena by Regional Bus

(Updated May, 2022 for transition from Tiemme to Autolinee Toscane bus service.) It is common to visit Siena from nearby Florence (Firenze) by taking the train or bus, and either is recommended to avoid the hassles of driving (for those not used to it). While either approach works fine, the bus drops you directly at … Continue reading Florence (Firenze) to Siena by Regional Bus

What is the song sung by the Sienese during the days of the Palio?

Excerpt adapted in part from my book, Living the Palio. Intro: While you will hear numerous folk songs around Palio time, there is one that is by far the most common melody of them all, the Song of Verbena (Il Canto della Verbena). This is sung by groups of contradaioli (contrada members) during the evening … Continue reading What is the song sung by the Sienese during the days of the Palio?

Trains to Siena and Beyond: The Basics of Trenitalia

Siena is connected well by Italy's national train system, Trenitalia, even though the city is not on a major high-speed line. I have found Italy's train system to be extensive, reliable, and relatively easy to use for those who prefer not to drive. Even in Siena, trains are numerous and frequent, unlike anything Americans are … Continue reading Trains to Siena and Beyond: The Basics of Trenitalia

The Assignment of the Horses

Nearing the conclusion of the assignment (drawing) of the horses on June 29, 2019 for the upcoming July 2 Palio. Complimentary "score sheet" that allows viewers to record the horses and their assigned numbers. After the final 10 horses to run in the Palio were selected prior to the drawing, one could compare their assigned … Continue reading The Assignment of the Horses

Taxis in Siena: How to Call and What to Expect

Siena's taxi service is extensive for a city of this size, with its web site (in English here) claiming to have 55 vehicles and 60 drivers in service. When walking in or around Siena, they are seemingly everywhere, and many visitors depend on them. The company is part of a unified consortium, so all cars … Continue reading Taxis in Siena: How to Call and What to Expect

Siena’s Local, Intercity Bus System

(Updated Sept. 21, 2021 for changes to the Siena Mobilita web site.) For those in Siena without a car, the local bus system provides reliable and frequent transportation for neighborhoods both inside and outside the city walls. Since transit systems are largely designed for locals, however, they can confuse even more experienced travelers. This post … Continue reading Siena’s Local, Intercity Bus System