After the Palio of 2nd July, dedicated to the holy Mary of Provenzano, the race comes back on 16th August: the Palio dell'Assunta (Palio of the Assumpion of Mary) is one of the most famous folkloristic events of Italy, a major tourist attraction, whose origins date back to the late 16th century.
The usual ceremony is repeated year after year, the race has always played an important role in the life of Siena's people. The horse race takes place in the charming Piazza del Campo, on a tuff trail.
The Palio lasts four days: in the morning of 13th August the horse is assigned to the Contrada. This ceremony is called "la tratta". Then horses and jockeys can run 6 times in order to test the trail, three times in the morning and three times in the afternoon. The race taking place on 15th August, in the afternoon, is called dry run, while the last race in the morning of 16th August, is called "provaccia".
On 16th August, in the afternoon, after the passage of the historical parade, the "carriers" takes place on the suqre. Only 10 out of 17 contrade can attend the race. The competition is preceded by an amazing parade with over 600 characters in medieval costumes, who cross the whole town, coming to Piazza del Campo.
The Palio consists of 3 turns of the square Piazza del Campo on horseback: the starting point is by the Mossa, formed by two ropes where horses and jockeys must wait, their position is chosen with a draw, and 9 contrade come between the ropes, while the last one can run after the others when the ropes are down. The winning contrada will be the first one to complete the 3 turns.
The winner gets a Palio, called Drappellone, which can be kept inside the contrada's museum. The winning contrada has the honor to go to the cathedral in order to thank Our Lady of the Assumption for the victory.