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day trip to Siena around the time of Il Palio

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Orange County, CA
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day trip to Siena around the time of Il Palio

Hello All,

My family will be renting an apartment in Florence from June 26 - July 4. Of course Siena is on my list as one of the top day trips from Florence. In doing a little research, I just learned that this period falls right during the July Palio . Looks like it is an amazing, but very expensive and rather difficult event to attend. Those of you who know the area well, what would you advise? Should we make a day trip early or late in our stay to avoid the Palio altogether, or perhaps go during one of the lead up days when the trial races are run, or should we consider this a once in a lifetime experience and try to get tickets? The fact that we already have accommodations in Florence and need public transport back and forth also complicates matters. We have never been to this region of Italy, and our children are young adults. Thank you for sharing your expertise and thoughts!

Montepulciano, Italy
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1. Re: day trip to Siena around the time of Il Palio

If budget isn't an issue, try and get tickets for the Palio itself to sit in a stand. If you are strong, fit, can stand the heat and resist the need to visit a bathroom for maybe 4-6 hours (despite drinking litres of water), consider standing in the middle of Il Campo. You may or may not see much but you'll find the atmosphere electric. If you come into the town on the days of the trials arriving by 9 / 9.30, it's easy to park and it's easy to find a place to perch (for free) to watch the races. You'll see the flags, the various bands marching up and down, flag waving, etc and get a feel for the atmosphere. What you won't see though is this truly remarkable square in all its glory as the track and stands will have been set up, which I personally feel spoils it a bit. If time isn't an issue, sneak into town at the very beginning of your stay to see Siena when it's slightly quieter and Il Campo isn't cluttered. If you later like what you see and what to get a taste of Il Palio, return. I don't believe anyone can ever get too much of this amazing city.

Edited: 3:38 am, January 16, 2014
pittsburgh
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2. Re: day trip to Siena around the time of Il Palio

We were there this past summer 2 days before the Palio and the city was packed. It was very interesting to see all the banners and everything associated with the palio but the crowds were huge, especially in the square where the race is run. If you don't want to be in all the hubbub I would suggest visiting a few days before in order to get a feel for the excitement. If you wish to visit on the day of the race then Lastraniera has given you some really great advice on what to do and what to expect.

Donna

Orange County, CA
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3. Re: day trip to Siena around the time of Il Palio

Thank you both for your excellent advice. I would love to say budget was not an issue at all, but when I saw some of the prices being quoted on websites, I realized we might be talking superbowl expensive for tickets. I think the idea to visit early in our trip and come back if we feel so moved is a great one. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

Savannah, GA
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4. Re: day trip to Siena around the time of Il Palio

If at ALL possible, read SEVENN SEASONS IN SIENA by Robert Rodi before you make Palio decisions. It's a lovely read and will give you such a feel for ways in which - without breaking the bank - you may enjoy this experience.

Savannah, GA
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5. Re: day trip to Siena around the time of Il Palio

Sorry SEVEN only has one "N"!

Savannah, GA
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6. Re: day trip to Siena around the time of Il Palio

And....if I could afford it by scrimping someplace else, I'd hire Dario Costagno (read any/all of HIS wonderful books, too) to give you a Palio Day (maybe prior to the actual race day) in Siena. His passion for the Palio and his expertise and connections will give you a "in" that you could not otherwise find. (He's actually a member of the Caterpillar Contade) He's a wonder. He's also amazingly expert on oil and wine....just a remarkable resource.

NJ
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7. Re: day trip to Siena around the time of Il Palio

How many days after Palio is the piazza back to normal all the stands, seating, etc. gone?

8. Re: day trip to Siena around the time of Il Palio

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