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The Palio of Siena

The Palio horse race in Siena is one of the most spectacular festivals in Italy.  It takes place twice a year, on 2nd July and 16th August.  It is, however, much more than one race on the one day.  It is the apex of months of preparation and the Palio itself is a 4-day festival.  To watch it on TV or read about it in the paper, or even to stand in the square and experience the race itself is only scratching the surface of a fabulous tradition.  This exclusive tour brings you the “Quattro giorni del Palio”  and immerses you in the rituals and folklore of the Palio together with the signature Food, Wine, Walking and attention to detail of Hedonistic Hiking.

This tour is based in Siena, but why not consider extending your walking holiday in Italy by visiting Florence, Pisa or Rome?   For more ideas on where to go visit our City Guide page.  For more photos of this tour click here.

€2,625 per person
Single supplement:

Our tours are genuinely all-inclusive - learn more about what we offer. 

What's Included?
  • Grandstand tickets for Historical Parade and Palio Horse Race – 16th August
  • Siena Contrada Museum Tour
  • Contrada Dinner - night before the race day
  • Horse Blessing - day of the race
  • All meals as per itinerary (dinner on Day 1 to Breakfast on Day 7)
  • Transfers and all transport ex. Pisa in air-conditioned minibus
  • Exclusive services of Hedonistic Hiking guide(s)
  • 6 nights’ accommodation at Palazzo Ravizza – a historic residence in the centre of Siena
  • Dinners in a variety of excellent restaurants. Meals matched to quality wines – including some of the top wines of the region
  • Museum visits as per itinerary
  • Hands-on cooking class with local chef
Tour Dates
12th - 18th August 2016

12th August

The tour starts in Pisa (train station or airport) where we meet you at 3pm. Drive 2 hours to Siena where we stay in the historical centre in Palazzo Ravizza, a charming hotel in the heart of the city with fabulous views across the Sienese countryside. This evening there is a short introductory talk about the Palio before we stroll into the Campo, the beautiful central square, where we enjoy an aperitif before dinner in a local trattoria.

13th August
Today is the start of the “Quattro Giorni del Palio”. This morning a leisurely walking tour of the city will take in one of the Contrade museums before we converge in the Campo to see the horses being allocated to their Contrade. This important event is attended by many local Sienese and accompanied by much fanfare. Light lunch in a local wine bar.  Free time to explore the city in the afternoon and dinner in a local restaurant.

14th August
Today a guided hike explores the beautiful area of the Merse River, one of the most pristine areas in the region. Opportunities to cool off in the clear waters before a leisurely picnic in the countryside.  Later in the day we meet Orietta, a delightful local chef, and join her for an informal and fun cookery class followed by a relaxed dinner at a local farm.


15th August
This morning we visit the private art collection of the Monte di Paschi, the oldest bank in the world, before heading out of the city for a guided walk in the shady hills of the Montagnola.  Picnic in the open countryside.  We return to Siena in the afternoon and watch the penultimate trial race before joining with the Contradaioli from one of the city Contrade for a pre-race dinner in the streets of the city. For more on this read our recent Blog.

16th August

An early start for those that wish to see the Bishop of Siena leading Mass in the chapel on the Piazza del Campo. A guided walk through the streets enables you to absorb the excitement of the day.  In the afternoon we attend the blessing of the horse at one of the Contrada chapels before the procession sets off from the Duomo.  We take our seats on the square to enjoy the medieval parade followed by the race itself.  We dine in the square after the race and enjoy the continuation of the celebrations.

17th August
Enjoy a relaxed start to the day as the city recovers from the festivities of the Palio.  Later in the morning we head out of Siena for a walk in the countryside followed by a picnic in the gardens of a 16th century private villa.  Time for some last-minute shopping in Siena in the afternoon before a magnificent final dinner in a renowned restaurant.

18th August
Return to Pisa airport for 11am.

NB: If the race has to be cancelled for any reason (eg. heavy rain) it will usually be rescheduled for the following day.   If this were to happen we would adapt the itinerary accordingly in order to attend the race.

For an inside view of the 2012 Palio with Hedonistic Hiking, see the Blog.

Extra Info


Much of the walking on this tour is around the paved streets of Siena. However, there are 3 hikes from 4-9km in the surrounding countryside. We hike on strade bianche (unsealed roads) and on woodland tracks. These hikes are of course optional and guests can choose to stay in Siena on the walking days – or maybe relax under a tree with a good book! Unlike our other tours there is only one guide for this tour with no support vehicle for pick-ups during the hikes. Some days the tour leader will carry the picnic to have en route and on other days the picnic will be at the end of the hike. If you are a non-hiker but are still keen to join the tour and would like to know more about the walking day itineraries please contact us. It is a very personalised tour and we try to adapt the itinerary to suit all participants. We recommend sturdy walking shoes/boots which can be used for walking around Siena as well. Sports/rubber sandals are useful when we are by the river as we may cross the river on foot. To see how we grade the walking we have a simple comparison of all our tours taking into account ascents/descents, distances and terrain.

We have compiled a Reading List for ideas for books to enjoy on your walking tour.

Walking Gear
For helpful hints on what to wear, visit our Kit List page.

Buying Wine
We are often asked where guests can buy back home the wines tasted on the tours.  Our wine page has a few helpful pointers.


Temperatures can be very high in Tuscany in August - Min 25  Max 35

Today's weather in Siena

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