Steps down to our hotel.
A narrow street.
The "extensions" on the chairs and table to make them level!
The Palio in Siena is a horse race. But in Pavia it is a boat race (where the oarsmen stand in the boat and use oars similiar in a way to the paddles puntsmen use.) I have read that there is a Palio in a village near here that rolls cheeses! Anyway - back to Siena's palio. This horse race is between the Contrada of the town - I think we would liken the Cntrada to something along the lines of the council wards we have in South Australia, though I suspect, historically, it also had something to do with the most powerful families in the town.
Each Contrada has it's own colours and symbol - an animal of some kind, and these animals represent the virtues of the city. As we have walked through the town we have seen flags, window displays, and even street lights showing these things. There are flags, scarves, plates and m,any other little knick knacks for sale too. There is a real festive feel to the city.
A Palio window display.
The Palio is held in the Plaza del Campo, a huge space. We have not seen it as normal however, as it has a ring of about 6" deep of sand tightly packed and well wetted running oround the outside edge of the Piazza. Around the perimiter all the shop fronts are covered because wooden stands have been erected for people to sit, and on the corner where the track narrows considerably there are massive foam pads about 12 foot high. In the centre of the Piazza there are a number of stalls selling the Palio souveniers. The Piazza is unusual (for me) in that it slopes. It is higher on one side, and it slopes into the middle as well as down to the lower side. The building on the lower end of the Piazza, which has a large enclosed couryard, almost like cloisters, has had sand laid on the ground, and so I presume that is where the horses wait for the race.
Contrada street lighting put up for the Palio
On the lower edge of the Piazza stands the mighty Torre or tower, which today Carol and I climbed. We had to queue for sometime as we waited for the last lot of people to descend - it is only one way traffic! The steps are well worn with the many thousands of feet that go up each and every day, and at one point they narrow considerably. As I was ascending I tried hard not to think about coming down, though I was pleasantly surprised that it was easier than I thought. The view of Siena, and the Piazza was well worth the effort.
A view of Siena from the tower
The Piazza del Campo from the tower, the shadow of which you can see.
The little dots are the tourists!
Note the Palio route around the outer edge, with the barriers on the insde edge, and the stands on the outside.
The interior of the Duomo
Two of the marble floor pictures
Our hotel ......
.... and part of the view from our room.