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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.