Would you like to come to Tuscany and enjoy a ‘Once in a Lifetime’ 5-night trip taking in the world famous Palio in Siena and the best of everything it has to offer?
You may have already heard of the world famous Palio but just in case you haven’t, it’s a bareback horse race, dating back to the 13th Century which has been run every year without a break for the last 800 years. The race is run twice each year on the 2nd July and the 16th August and is what the beautiful medieval city of Siena is all about. The pageantry and tradition surrounding the Palio attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year and I have organised an incredibly special trip to see the Palio in July 2014 and experience the race itself and everything that goes with it accompanied by people who really know their way around!
The contest is between 10 of the 17 ‘Contradas’ (districts) of Siena and the competition is more than fierce!
There are several videos of the race on You Tube but there is an hour long programme of the race in July 2013 here. It’s in Italian but it is worth flicking through and you will get some idea of the colourful and entertaining festivities. Although the race itself only lasts a minute and a half, there are several hours of processions and celebrations during the afternoon.
There are various ways to see it in real life. Visitors can watch for free by cramming into the centre of the famous Campo and standing alongside several thousand others. I have done it and it’s great fun but it’s very hot, and once you are in, you can’t get out until it’s all over. It’s wonderful for the youngsters and the die-hards but once was enough for me!
I have managed to secure some incredible seats for this “once in a lifetime” trip giving you the chance to savor the sights, sounds and atmosphere of this incredible day in an unforgettable way.
Around this, I have planned a 5-night luxury trip, from Saturday 28th June 2014 leaving on Thursday 3rd July.
Our amazing itinerary includes:
Saturday 28th June: Arrive in Italy and travel to San Quirico d’Orcia which is situated in Southern Tuscany almost equidistant between Pisa and Rome.
San Quirico d’Orcia is a charming and picturesque walled town set in the Tuscan countryside, dating back to Etruscan times and first mentioned in 712AD. It is on the edge of the Val D’Orcia in Southern Tuscany very close to Pienza, Montepulciano and Montalcino and just half an hour from Siena. With its narrow streets filled with shops and restaurants, as well as beautiful gardens, it’s a lovely place to stay as well as a convenient location for seeing Southern Tuscany.
I have chosen accommodation at the beautiful 4 star Hotel Palazzo del Capitano in San Quirico d’Orcia. It is consistently well rated by its guests, has a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor and has its own spa.
I shall be there to welcome you upon your arrival and after you have settled in we shall meet for aperitivo and dinner. We shall be joined by my amazing guide Antonella Piredda who will bring everything to life for you during your trip.
Sunday 29th June: In the morning we shall make our first visit to Siena where we shall enjoy a guided walking tour with Antonella, understanding the history of this magnificent city and the huge importance of the Palio horse race in its everyday life. We shall be there for the very important assignment of the horses. As the horses are assigned by lottery, this is a particularly exciting event because none of the 10 competing districts known as ‘contradas’ know which horse will be assigned to them until 3 days before the race. We shall have lunch in Siena and there will be time for shopping and exploring on your own before we return to San Quirico.
Monday 30th June: We shall go out for the whole day with Antonella to see more of the beautiful Southern Tuscan countryside with its open vista, big sky and signature cypress trees. We shall visit a winery in Montalcino, home of the very famous Brunello wine where we shall have a private tour and a tasting followed by lunch.
Tuesday 1st July: In the morning we shall visit the famous Renaissance town of Pienza, where we shall enjoy a walking tour with Antonella.
In the late afternoon, we shall return to Siena, where we shall see the “Prova Generale”, the most important of all the rehearsals and prior to this, one of the most exciting spectacles in Siena, the ‘Charge of the Carabinieri” – the Cavalry charge on horseback around the Piazza del Campo with swords drawn and hooves pounding – a sight to behold! For the rehearsal itself, we shall stand in the middle of the Campo with all the other Italians – it’s huge fun and you can really soak up the atmosphere.
Afterwards we shall enjoy dinner with the Contrada. This is a particularly exciting time – hundreds of people sit down together and enjoy a meal under the stars with much pomp and festivity.
Wednesday 2nd July: – You will have free time in the morning to wander around San Quirico or enjoy the spa at the hotel.
At lunchtime we shall return to Siena for the Palio race in time to be in our seats at 2pm for the blessing prior to the procession and the historic race. We have been incredibly and uniquely fortunate in obtaining excellent seats in the bleachers around the outside of the Campo, importantly, in the shade and in a truly excellent position close to the start/finish line. We will be able to watch the procession and then the race which is full of excitement – and a great deal of noise!
Afterwards we shall go and have a delicious dinner to round off what will undoubtedly be an unforgettable day.
Thursday 3rd July: Time to leave unless you decide to stay on and extend your holiday in which case I shall be happy to help you plan.
I shall be there throughout to help you make the most of your trip and I do hope you will join us for what promises to be a once in a lifetime adventure!
Please note places are strictly limited.
For further information and to book email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me +44 (0)161 904 7884 or +44 (0) 7836622744