Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Palio! At Last!

In the 15 years since we started coming here, and the 3 since buying the property, Sally and I had never made to Siena’s famous Palio -- partly because of schedule, partly because it is a claustrophobic’s nightmare. Determined that if I didn’t go this year, I’d probably never go, I got in the car and drove to Siena on August 16, arriving at 2:00 p.m. At that time it wasn’t too crowded in the Campo, but people were already camping in the best spots. You can see the clay packed street that is the racetrack.

The contrada chest thumping and flag waving (a contrada is a community group or brotherhood), began around 3 o’clock.

Another contrada...

One of the race horses

Another contrada....

The parade around The Campo starts ...

... and takes 2 hours to complete

Sea of People. Not for the claustrophic.

VIP Balcony.

Mounts and Jockies before the costumed paraders.

The race is starting.

Here is the race on You Tube Tartuca (The Tortoise) Wins!

They thundered past so fast in such tight quarters that I forgot to breath, literally. Afterwards, all I could think of was getting out of the crowd and to my parked car as quickly as possible to avoid the crush. Since couldn’t do that without crossing the track, I stepped out onto it as soon one of the guards holding back the people turned away. That was both a discovery and a mistake. For the jockey had decided to dismount the winning horse and remove his jersey right in front of me. Meanwhile, one contrada of sore losers had pulled off their shirts and were ready to rumble.

The winning horse.

I'm close!

Way too close!

The Victors...


More Victors...

Sore Losers.

The Rumble begins...

Parting Shot. I got out just in time!

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