Last updated Thursday, July/04/2019
One of the most cherished events that take place in Italy is the Palio. From far and wide, regionally and globally; people travel all the way to come and witness this exciting horse racing event so that by the time the whole thing is over, there are lots of talks and snapshots being exchanged all around the place. The Palio is a tourism magnet for the Italians and other Europeans who always look forward to this wonderful event. The Palio horse race is both a tourist attraction for the country and a money spinner for the tourism industry as well. Days before the actual event is held, people would have already been preparing in different ways. From those who are buying costumes for that special day to those who would be taking good advantage of the occasion to make quick returns on any goods or services they are offering. The Palio is heralded with lots of fun and fanfare with many activities to back it up. There are parades and processions all contributing to make the main event worth attending. You will come across people from diverse cultures from all around the world who all converge in Italy to be a part of the fun train.
The horse race event presents a good opportunity to make new friends as well as learn new things about the famous Italian celebration. The Palio horse race is an event whereby bare-back horse races are conducted every summer. The horse race is usually held in Piazza del Campo immediately after the procession is finished. The Palio is a fascinating sport for the players while for spectators; the horse race remains a lovely spectacle that must not be missed. Palio is a little cruel when judged by the way the sport is played. The real protagonists in the game are the horses which keep racing (and may still win too) even if in the course of the race, they mistakenly lose their jockeys or riders. For those who have never watched it, the real surprise in Palio is that the entire race only lasts for a little above 5 minutes as it goes round the edges of Piazza del Campo. In order to get acquainted with the major phases of the Palio horse race, four days are set aside for the celebration. It is equally important to know out of 17 contrade, only ten will run every time. Furthermore, their participation in the race is often decided by means of a draw.
This draw takes place not less than 20 days before each Palio race is scheduled to hold. The 7 contrade that did not run in the race of that same day, the year before, are eligible to run; the other 3 contrade are drawn from the initial 10 that had participated. The draft is the procedure by which horses are allocated to the 10 contrade who participate in the Palio horse race. The third day, in the morning before the race, the racing horses are presented one after the other by their owners, the presentation is done in the courtyard of the Municipality Town Hall, also known as the Entrone. Here, they are thoroughly examined by veterinarians who have been delegated by the municipality. Theirs is to evaluate the physical conditions and morphology of the racing horses. These horses are first put into different groups for trial purposes. They are then tested for only 3 laps around the Piazza del Campo so that they can be evaluated for their adaptability to the racing tracks. After the trial runs, the captains come together before the Mayor in order to decide which horses adapt the most.
Next, the draw is conducted on an open platform outside the Entrone or Municipality Town Hall. Afterwards, one horse is assigned a contrada. There are usually six trials which all take place at 9:00 am every morning and evening around 7:00 pm. After the Parade is over, there is a big burst of canon fire that is announced to signify the jockeys’ departure from the Entrone. Every jockey is handed a horse whip which he uses to incite his horse to further ignite a forward response. The jockey uses these strategies to block other opponents during the course of the race. Before the actual race begins, the starter opens the race with the lowering of the rope. The start is considered invalid if the cracker goes off and stops the horses. In this case, the race has to be re-started. The horses and their jockeys have to run round the tracks thrice, for a total of about a thousand meters. The first horse to finish the race is declared the winner and is thus approved by 3 winners’ judges. There is a victory dinner that is usually held for the winning horse and contrada.