Palio di Siena
Palio di Siena
4.5
About
Twice a year, in July and August, the wide Piazza del Campo in the center of Siena is transformed into a horse racetrack. 17 different 'contrade' neighborhoods are represented by decorated silk flags and compete to win the coveted 'Drappellone' prize. There are also historical costumed parades that take place before the race.
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Tours & experiences
Explore different ways to experience this place.
What is Travelers’ Choice?
Tripadvisor gives a Travelers’ Choice award to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travelers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.

Top ways to experience Palio di Siena and nearby attractions

See what travelers are saying
  • Steve M
    4 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    August 2023 Palio and Contrada Dinner
    I purchased 2 balcony tickets for the August 2023 Palio and could not be more happy. The tickets were just as described. I also bought tickets to a contrada dinner and, to my surprise, Jacopo was seated at our table. I got Jacopo’s name from friends in Siena that knew him personally so I never doubted my transaction would have problems. Had I not had this connection I can understand how some people would be leery of making such a large purchase from a website that they had no prior knowledge of. Now that the Palio is over I can honestly say Jacopo seemed like a warm, friendly person that genuinely cares about his customers and the Palio. You are in good hands with Jacopo. I highly recommend him.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written August 17, 2023
  • LSQRD1
    Kent, Ohio813 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    A whole lot of people
    In the interest of full disclosure, our experience was only possible because we know several people in one of the contradas. Thus, we had the whole experience from the trial to the dinner to the blessing of the horse to the race. It was a lot to take in and seeing it through the eyes of our local colleagues gave just a small picture into the cultural experience. Standing in the slopped campo for several hours was a challenge (trapped among sooo many people with no bathroom) and it is really, really crowded. Fortunately, the experience of others paid off as we were in the shade. One tip--bottles with lids are not allowed so bring water but not a lid. Overall, the experience was a lot..I am glad I did it but not sure I would do it again. The contrada dinner was definitely the highlight for me.
    Visited June 2023
    Written August 20, 2023
  • Cosmopolitan794298
    1 contribution
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Tuscan Team arranged a perfect Palio experience for us
    Alessandro and the folks at Tuscan Team arranged a perfect Palio experience for us. I must admit that I was a little scared about arranging and paying for the whole thing on a website from California, 6,000 miles and 9 time zones away. In the end I was happy that I took the plunge. In addition to obtaining amazing seats to view the Palio he arranged a city tour, a Contrada dinner, and reservations for dinner after the Palio. Just a word of note, if you are claustrophobic, like me, the balcony has a great view but is a bit cramped.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written October 16, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles195 reviews
Excellent
140
Very good
42
Average
6
Poor
4
Terrible
3

Timtravelsabout
London, UK50 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2022 • Friends
We went to Italy with a group of friends to celebrate special birthday. On thursday before the palio we attended the race trials which are a series of trial starts to prepare for the horses for the large crowds on the day of the race.

The palio on saturday was spectacular with 10 horses racing for coveted banner or palio. Siena has 17 contratas which are the neighbourhood districts. We were part of the Lupa contrata (she wolf). The medieval style pagent begins the afternoon followed by the entrance of horses and jockeys who ride bareback. The race starts at 5.30 and consists of three laps around the famous Campo. The 2022 race was the first race after being cancelled because of the pandemic and our horse finished fourth. We had great seats on a balcony overlooking the campo that we bought a year in advance. The winner was drago of the dragon contrata. We had a great time but this race isnt for those who dont like crowds.
Written July 3, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Diederik
1 contribution
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023
First of all, let me say it's definitely worth it to visit the Palio. Siena is worth visiting any time of the year, but the Palio is something else. Even though it is during tourist season it still is (and feels) a very local event. The people and athmosphere are amazing!

But this review is to help people considering booking with Jacopo Della Torre (as I was, last winter). I did read some other negative reviews, but his response was very well written, so I decided to trust him. I think if everything goes perfect, you'll be fine, but be sure that you have no rights if something goes wrong. Especially for the trial runs, his terms state: "in the rare event of cancellation of the one you have bought tickets for, tickets remain valid for the next one, possibly at 9am the following morning". Please note that this simply not true (as you can read below).

Prior to the Palio there is great and friendly email contact. You have to pay to a bank in Lithuania based in Hungary, which I though was a bit strange, but in the end the tickets were waiting for us at the hotel, just as promised. You are given a local phone number of his assistant, who you can contact during the Palio.

In reality the assistant doesn't always respond and you are not kept up to date. This is relevant, because sometimes (as in our case) the trail runs (and/or Palio itself) will be postponed because of the weather. We didn't hear anything so went at 9.00 in the morning to the square, to see that the trail run was cancelled. After that we met him briefly and he asked us to send him an email about a possible trial run later that night.

He will probably reply to this post explaining himself, but I disagree. You can judge for yourself based on his own words:

Jacopo: "Sorry, no chance for tonight. If the race is on, it's sold out. Tomorrow morning could be an option. Thanks for now and we talk later in case".

We heard nothing. After filing a complaint with him, he said he couldn't remember meeting us in person (this was 3 days after we met him). He will probably write a well written answer to this post justifying his actions, so I will leave to everyone to judge it based on his own words:

"Had you been more proactive, you would have been rescheduled as anyone else who indeed bothered contacting us also later on the day. After all, with all respect, I don't think that your day was as busy as mine, and nobody ever prevented you from contacting me or my team again during the day"
Written August 12, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

LSQRD1
Kent, OH813 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2023
In the interest of full disclosure, our experience was only possible because we know several people in one of the contradas. Thus, we had the whole experience from the trial to the dinner to the blessing of the horse to the race. It was a lot to take in and seeing it through the eyes of our local colleagues gave just a small picture into the cultural experience. Standing in the slopped campo for several hours was a challenge (trapped among sooo many people with no bathroom) and it is really, really crowded. Fortunately, the experience of others paid off as we were in the shade. One tip--bottles with lids are not allowed so bring water but not a lid. Overall, the experience was a lot..I am glad I did it but not sure I would do it again. The contrada dinner was definitely the highlight for me.
Written August 20, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Steve M
4 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Family
I purchased 2 balcony tickets for the August 2023 Palio and could not be more happy. The tickets were just as described. I also bought tickets to a contrada dinner and, to my surprise, Jacopo was seated at our table. I got Jacopo’s name from friends in Siena that knew him personally so I never doubted my transaction would have problems. Had I not had this connection I can understand how some people would be leery of making such a large purchase from a website that they had no prior knowledge of. Now that the Palio is over I can honestly say Jacopo seemed like a warm, friendly person that genuinely cares about his customers and the Palio. You are in good hands with Jacopo. I highly recommend him.
Written August 17, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bryan O
Cork21 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2021 • Friends
July 2018. A bit late for a review but just to add to the positivity...it really lived up to my expectations. We stayed inside the walls - a bit expensive but well worth it for the experience. The practice run the day before was super. The atmosphere around the town was incredible. We stayed in the snail contrada. Brilliant. The build up was very cool. It is really genuine amongst the people of siena, not a tourist attraction. We were offered tickets for the dinner the night before by the hotel, we skipped it, thought we'd be out of place. Massive regret. But still exploring the city the night before was great nonetheless.
Written April 12, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Passingthru63
Melbourne, Australia132 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2017
Jacopo also organised our seats which he failed to explain are very, very small. We paid over 1000 euros and the seat was so small my husband could not even sit in it and ended up leaving before the race even started. Everyone around me said the same. I have no complaints with the Palio or the seating - it is what it is - but Jacopo needs to tell people up front and clearly how small the seats are. GIVE MEASUREMENTS before you tell people the view is great and before they hand over 1200 euro in cash in an apartment up a few flights of stairs. He wasn't there when I took my cash and it was all a bit weird. Our very expensive seats were a joke. Yes, fantastic view, but I would have preferred to stand than be crushed like sardines and paying for this privilege. I noticed the VIP seats beside me did not have the metal seats so they were able to spread out a little but we were contained to our lap-top size metal cafe chair. It was like a cafe chair with arms that has been removed from the base legs and then placed on the benches. If we had of just sat on the benches it would have been much better, but I guess Jacopo would not have been able to sell as many tickets...? The Palio was wonderful and the buzz in the streets of Siena was unforgettable. I was more happy watching from my hotel balcony than the actual event because of the seats. I was lucky, I was there for the week which I have looked forward to for many years, so I was able to be part of the wonderful excitement of the Palio but those seats left a sour taste in my mouth.
Written October 2, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

tripc
Chicago, IL286 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
I recently attended the Palio from August 13th-17th, 2007. I traveled alone and thought I would give my impressions on the big event. Although many other trial runs and things were going on during my stay in Siena, I decided to only attend the actual race. However, just being in the town, I saw contrade singing in the streets, flag throwers practicing, and witnessed the excitement building up to the race itself. The Palio is inescapable during this time...and that is a good thing!

On the actual day, August 16, I arrived at about 11 a.m. and there were only a few spots left along the fence in the Campo. If you're going for free like me, you should probably do this as it would be hard to see the race otherwise. Make sure to bring plenty of water and some snacks. A hat is a must! It is insanely hot down there and I felt a little faint at times and several people were carried off by paramedics. If you leave your spot, someone will take it, so if you do leave to get water, go to the bathroom, etc. make sure whoever you are with guards your spot...About 30 minutes before the procession begins, they close off the Campo, so make sure to go to the restroom before this.

At about 4:30 p.m., the procession begins and lasts for about 2 hours. This is really cool. Each contrade comes out in full Medieval/ Renaissance garb throwing flags, showing off their armor, and the racehorses are paraded around all to the sound of drums. It is not to be missed!

Finally, the race begins. The horses make three rounds, so make sure to have your camera ready. Most likely, a rider or two will fall off. This is apparently par for the course, so try to take it in stride (although it is really scary to see). Very exciting!

The 5 hour + wait is totally worth it! So, go for it. Or if you're a big spender, you can buy tickets for $500 or something like that. However, I have a feeling being in the Campo is more exciting!

After the race, find out where the winning contrade is located and go party with them. I did not actually do this, because it was so full, they had closed it off. But I have heard that if you can find the winning contrade and get in, free wine flows from giant barrels.

It is a truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and if you get the chance to be there, you should do it!

--A note on lodging, tickets, and contrade dinners...you must book way in advance as the Palio is an extremely popular event and people come from all over Italy and the world to see it. Ask your hotel for help with the contrade dinners...you may need to "know" someone to get into them as it seems to be a pretty close-knit affair. You can also try writing to the individual contrada for permission. I think they cost 70 Eu to attend.
Written August 23, 2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kate C
Newmarket, UK28 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2016 • Family
We were lucky enough to be in Siena when the Palio was on. We got tickets which were quite pricey but worth it to watch the race from a rooftop overlooking the Piazza. It was an incredible experience - we watched the whole thing (3 hours), with our kids (11 and 15) and we all absolutely loved it. It is hard to describe but the atmosphere was electric. It was like going back in time watching all the processions and knowing this has happened throughout history. I would say watch from a rooftop, or the grandstand but standing in the square would be difficult in the heat and not for young children. Wonderful day, highlight of our holiday.
Written August 29, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Richard W
Worcester, UK327 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2019
I attended the Palio in August 2019. I arrived in good time, armed with food and water and equipped for an afternoon waiting in the direct sun. By 1.30 pm I had a place by the barrier, ready to see the horse race close up. The wait was long, but I met some lovely people waiting alongside me. Take care to get alongside the barrier - I found a place at the highest point in the square, which worked well. There are safety gates that you can sit by and they get busy less quickly - but be aware that security guys will stand there and be in the way of your view. The parade was well worth seeing, then the race started... or at least tried to... for about half an hour. It was over in a couple of minutes and it was amazing to see, and to be a part of such a huge crowd. An unmissable experience, ans so glad to took a day out of my visit to see Siena and spend time in the square waiting. Take plenty of water, but be aware that once the centreal area is closed off there is no way out until after the race. I would do this again - and am so glad I did not pay to have a seat on the bleachers around the square.
Written August 24, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

john m
Bolton, UK130 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2019 • Friends
Saw this race 4 years ago and paid for a balcony extremely expensive (300 euros),this year we decided to stand in the middle (free) but it was unfortunately much hotter than usual which made it a little uncomfortable still a must see the spectacle and parades go on for several hours the race itself only 90 seconds you can buy water but beware there are no toilets in the middle best views are by the fountain at the top of the campo.
And definitely do a pre palio dinner the evening before with one of the contradas fantastic atmosphere food and wine all in 60 euros
Written July 19, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Showing results 1-10 of 72
Is this your Tripadvisor listing?
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.
Claim your listing

Palio di Siena - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

Frequently Asked Questions about Palio di Siena



All Siena HotelsSiena Hotel DealsLast Minute Hotels in Siena
All things to do in Siena
Day Trips in Siena
RestaurantsFlightsVacation RentalsTravel StoriesCruisesRental Cars