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Thu, 11/08/2012 - 11:00
With its shell-shaped square called Piazza del Campo, Siena has a historical center declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nothing says Siena like the medieval cityscape and the prestigious palio. Palio de Siena is a world famous horse race, where the jockeys representing the seventeen city wards rush to win in the applause of the watching crowd. With a Middle Age allure, with rich traditions in arts and artists and important architectural monuments, Siena has a very distinct charm. Intended to be the largest cathedral, the Romanesque-Gothic edifice in Siena was abandoned and left with an unusual structure as its axis runs from North to South.
Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy and the capital of the province with the same name. The name Siena comes from its settlers, a tribe called Saina, who put the base of the city in the time of Etruscans (900-400 BC). The Piazza del Campo is the principal public square and a former marketplace which dates ever since the 13th century. Nowadays, Siena with its Piazza del Campo is one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares, well known for its architectural integrity and the much acclaimed palio.
The square has started being a public games site, most of them combative: boxing, jousting, bullfights. The public races have been made famous during the 14th century. After bullfighting was prohibited in 1590, other kinds of races were organized in the Piazza del Campo. The first races were called “bufalate”(riding buffaloes), those turned into “asinate” (riding donkeys) and then into the famous palio.
During the palio, the jockeys circle the square 3 times and the race doesn’t usually last more than 90 seconds. There are two annual races, on July second and August the 16th in which ten horses and riders rival for fame. The palio held on July second is also called Palio di Provenzano and it celebrates the Madonna of Provenzano, who has a church in Siena. The palio held on August the 16th is also called the Palio dell’Assunta and celebrates the Assumption of Mary.
Siena is also a place with great cultural importance. The Pinacoteca Nazionale in Siena is an art edifice which includes one of the largest collections of Sienese paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries. There are also frescoes and bas-reliefs of the 15th century sculptors to be admired.
Siena is a place where you can feel like in the medieval times. You will be able to see the colors and the traditions of the past, well preserved and taken into the future. Learn about the architecture, the history and the fame a city in which the medieval spirit and the rivalry are still alive.