This week I'm introducing a new "flash back Friday" segment where I share posts from previous travel blogs. Years ago I would start a new blog every time I went on a new adventure, starting with my study abroad trip to Siena Italy.
Long before kkantoinette... there was "Kk goes to Europe", a blog created to share my adventures through Italy with family and friends. I lived in Siena, Italy for about three months over the summer of 2010. The architecture, heavy medieval influences, and history of Siena won me over almost immediately. Siena is mostly known for their famous horse race called Il Palio. Il Palio happens twice a year, once in July and again in August. Contradas, or neighborhoods, enter a raffle for a horse and choose a jocky to represent them in the race. The Contradas then take their horse back to their contrada's private church to bless the horse.
Yes. They bring the horse inside the tiny, private church, and bless it.
The horse then gets pampered for days on end. Massages, blessings, manicures, more blessings, and so on. This is (of course) all leading up to the big race.
While living in Siena, I made friends with locals who lived in the Nicchio Contrada (Nobile Contrada del Nicchio). Nicchio was "blessed" with winning an excellent horse during the July raffle, and hurried their horse back to the Nicchio church. My friends and I got swept up in the stream of fellow Nicchios rushing back to their Contrada. Older women were crying through smiles, children strained to see "their horse" and complete strangers hugged and kissed me with happiness. The crowd moved and felt as one and was impossible to stop.
Flagmen and nobles from the Nicchio Contrada, making their way to the practice Palio (below).
Before the big race day, the city holds a practice race. The images shown on this post are from the practice race of the July Palio 2010 and taken from a friends balcony.
The area where Il Palio takes place is normally the same Siena Red cobble stone bricks that adorn the rest of the city. For Il Palio, a team of men lines the cobblestone with pounds and pounds of dirt the morning of the race. After the practice race, the dirt is cleaned up and then put out again for the next race, and so on. This change over is extremely important to the city because it allows its residence and tourists to utilize the Piazza del Campo (public square). Tourists find all of their meals around the edges of the Piazza, and both tourists and residents use the Piazza as a hang out during the hot summer nights. As you can imagine, the dirt would end up everywhere if it was left out for everyone to walk in.
These practice Palio images are just a little teaser of whats to come! I'll be sharing more from Siena and other past adventure every Friday from now on!