Lorenzo Pirisino
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The Siena's Palio
[Saturday 2nd July 2011]

This was the first time for me to come to Siena to see the Palio, quite strange if you think that this race takes place twice in the year and I live in Florence which is only 40km away from Siena...

Anyways since we are trying to catch back on things that I didn't do before, me Gianfranco, Simone (he's from Siena, our "Cicero" for the day) and Melania.

There is little to say, we met at 4 PM in Colle Val d'Elsa and we drove to Siena with just one car, the city is packed with people on the Palio days, so parking is impossible.
Siena is quite beautiful, they managed to keep it very "medieval", when you enter the centre of town you really step back a few hundred years just by looking at the buildings and streets.

We took a nice tour of the city and then we plunged into a massive queue to enter Piazza del Campo, where the race takes place (calling it queue is wrong, it was more of a throng of people wanting to enter the main square). Apparently Piazza del Campo can hold up to 80.000 people, I think that we were not short of that number on the day.

There was a bit of waiting, as you have to enter at least 1 hour before the race, but there was a nice parade, and Simone told us all about the race, the history and the craziness that people from Siena go through every year for these races.

There are a lot of fistfights the days prior to the race, each horse represents a different area of the city and there are rival "contrade" (quarters) who hate each other a LOT. The main point of the race is making sure that the rival contrada DOES NOT WIN. Nobody cares if you do not win, but if the enemy does it's BAD...

Apparently we were quite lucky because the race started immediately, normally it takes a long time, and the "contrada dell'Oca" (goose) won the race. Here is when the fun begins because the people belonging to the quarter start going around the city partying and of course chanting and waving flags and anything that belongs to the "contrada". It also does happen that they stop at the borders of the rival quarter (they do not enter though) just to rub it in even more... :)

We went to the contrada dell'Oca to see the party, there are people crying, people happy, people totally drunk. We got some free wine on the street and after a while we moved away, after all we do not really belong to that place so we cannot understand how important for this people is to win something like that.

A great day though, I really enjoyed it!

[1 comment]

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A reminder to Myself

Left and right
Like day and night
That's what makes the world go round
In and out
Thin and stout
That's what makes the world go round

For every up there is a down
For every square there is a round
For every high there is a low
For every to there is a fro
To and fro
Stop and go
That's what makes the world go round

You must set your sights upon the heights
Don't be a mediocrity
Don't just wait and trust to fate
And say, that's how it's meant to be
It's up to you how far you go
If you don't try you'll never know
And so my lad as I've explained
Nothing ventured, nothing gained

You see my boy it's nature's way
Upon the weak the strong ones prey
The human life it's also true
The strong will try to conquer you
That is what you must expect
Unless you use your intellect
Brains and brawn, weak and strong
That's what makes the world go round


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