Subject: Re: The Palio in Siena
Hi Ziners,

My family and I were in Siena just before the Palio in July 95. We weren't there for the actual race (2 minutes' long, I understand!) But we were thrilled by the pagentry and the atmosphere of all the preparations.

Each contrada (neighbourhood) has its own emblem and use it to embelish fountains, lamps, etc. When we were in the turtle area, we saw the locals practising their marching and flag waving. Then the neighbouring fish contrada came marching to meet them - flags swishing, hands on hips, drums drumming and about 100 men and boys in blue and white mediaeval costumes. The turtles rang the bells of their headquarters and marched too. Some exchanged flags with the fish (evidently allies can do this). In the narrow streets the drums thump on your chest and the bells clang loudly. A most amazing spectacle. Later in the evening we saw other contrada proudly parading in the Campo, throwing their flags high into the air.

So even if you can't be there for a Palio race, go just before for the skirmishes!

Frances Toronto, Canada