Palio della Madonna de Provenzana

This is the first of Siena's two annual palios and will be run on July 2.

Horses represent 10 of the 17 "contrade" or wards, with the 7 who miss out this time going straight into the field for the August one, are drawn by lot and then there is an awful lot of scheming and negotiating getting the jockeys for the horses.

This time there are four horses who have done well in previous palios and they are Porta Alaba drawn by Civetta, Remorex drawn by Drago, Rocco Nice who will represent Torre, and Violenta da Clodia who has gone to Chicciola.

There's no official betting – private bets involve dinners and purges! 

The eve of the palio each of the contrade host a dinner in the streets of their ward and a great time is had by all.

The actual day starts with the Mass for the Jockeys in the Campo, the main "square" of Siena, and is followed by the last of the trials involving all the participants in the morning.

In the afternoon the horses are dressed in their best saddlery and taken to the parish church – and up to the altar – where they are blessed by the priest who tells them to go forth and return victorious!

Racing and Sports