The Palio in Siena is a traditional "horse-race" event that has been celebrated for more than 800 years since 1147. There take two horse-races a year, one on July 2nd and other on August 16th, both of which are important and very passionate events for the Senese. Strictly speaking, 10 horses and jockeys from 10 districts in Siena participate in the race. The "Fantino (horse-rider)" wear uniforms in the color of their district's flags, while people in each district wear scarfs in these colors as well. There are rival districts as well, also known as "Contrada."
What makes the races so unique are the lack of rules and the short race time. Specifically, the "Fantino" are required to ride on and control naked horses without saddles, while they are allowed to distract other jockeys with their whips or push them down by force. Further, horses are chosen by lottery, and so districts could only hope to get the best horse or commit corrupt practices, which is totally allowed in this event. The race takes only a minute at the beautiful Piazza del Campo, which is 300 meters in circumference. The climax of the race happens only for a moment, which is why people become so passionate about the events.
If you have the chance to visit Italy in Summer, we recommend you experience the fascinating and stimulating event in Siena.