The Palio di Siena

17 08 2007

The Palio

This year’s running of the Palio horse race in Siena, Italy left viewers stirred but not shaken (sorry, I had to) as film crews captured the event for the next Bond movie:

[T]o the relief of the Siena authorities, the huge crowd and – presumably – the film producers, all horses and jockeys survived the dangerous bareback race.

Several jockeys were unseated as horses crashed into the wall at the notoriously tight San Martino bend, falling beneath the pounding hooves of their rivals. Miraculously none was hurt.

Instead, with Daniel Craig watching from a window high above the Campo, the square where the Palio is run on packed sand, Siena put on a classic show of colourful pageantry and excitement to a background of medieval drums and flags. Link

From Wikipedia: “The Palio di Siena (known locally simply as the Palio), the most famous palio in Italy, is a horse race held twice each year on July 2 and August 16 in Siena, in which the horse and rider represent one of the seventeen Contrade, or city wards. A magnificent pageant precedes the race, which attracts visitors and spectators from around the world.” Is this the world’s longest-running horse race?

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8 responses

19 08 2007

I find it ironic that, had this story been about Performance (i.e. “Big Lick”) Tennessee Walking Horses, there would already be several posts condemning the event.

During the Aug. 2004 running of the Palio, a horse fell during the race and was trampled to death. The race is legendary for speed, aggression and passion — otherwise, James Bond wouldn’t be there.

Despite the Palio’s infamous history, I am not condemning it because too many equestrian activities are vulnerable to the ire of activists — whether the attention is deserved or not.

20 08 2007

Several horses have died during the Palio.

But frankly, of all the events in the entire world, this is the one I most want to see in person. Marguerite Henry wrote a book about it (can’t recall the title!) and ever since I have wanted to see it in person. I’m too fat and not Italian, or I’d want to ride in it.

30 08 2007
Simply Marvelous

I’m very sad to say, I attended that event a few years ago. The horror of it still haunts my mind. It was dreadful, frantic and everyone seemed hysterical with a cruel excitement. I left in tears.

17 01 2008

I’ve now seen the Palio three times, with something incredible happening during each race… If watching this event you don’t come away with a sense of awe and a better understanding of passionate Italians & history, then you just went to a funny horse race. To the people of Siena, the Palio is LIFE!

24 06 2008
Debbie D.

My husband and I were right smack in the middle of the piazza that day!! It was a once in a lifetime experience with Italians locking arms, pushing and shoving to get where they wanted to be. Still, we’ll remember it always and look forward to seeing the Bond film. It will serve as a keepsake of our first and hopefully not last Palio. It was thrilling, beautiful and at the same time ruthless and violent.

18 01 2010
Garth Quast


Does anyone know where I might be able to find a dvd of the Palio from August 2004. I was there for the race and it was on the the most amazing and spectacular events I have ever been to, and I would love to get a copy of the race on dvd.


23 12 2011

I have a DVD of the race from about 04 or 05.

28 07 2011
Horse Racing Naps

This race is crazy, i was there back in 2005 and was such a good experience, nothing like the horse races we have here in the uk!

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