Piazza del Campo is not only one of the finest racetracks in the world but also the home of the Palio race which draws crowds from all across the globe to witness its drama. The Medieval Square is located in Sienna, Italy. The Piazza del Campo is made up of two straight lines of buildings joining the two sharp curves where all the action takes place during the Palio race. The two curves are named the Curva del Casato and the Curva di San Martino. They were named so in reference to one of the eleven streets that lead into the Campo.
The Palio is a race where the horses make three rounds around the racecourse, having to navigate the two sharp corners as many times in under a minute. It is held twice a year; on 2 July and 16 August. The race is fast and exhilarating and the preparation starts months before. It is preceded by a large ceremony as the jockeys enter in their ceremonial dress. After the long procession of events, which starts four days before the material day, it is finally time to get on with the race, which is run bareback. The race is dangerous for both the horse and the rider but it is also a beloved tradition that brings the whole of Tuscany to life.
The Palio is contested by ten contrade at a time even though there are seventeen. The number of contrade competing had to be reduced due to the number of accidents that happened due to horses knocking against one another. Some horses have had serious accidents and have had to be put down due to their injuries. Despite the dangers of the race, Andrea Degortes, fondly known by his fans as Aceto (Vinegar), has the highest number of wins for a Palio. The jockey has had 14 wins in his time in the Piaza del Campo. He collected his wins in his racing days from 1964 to 1996.
The Palio is a race like no other that every race-goer should see at least once. The pulsating atmosphere and the merriment around the event is worth the trouble.