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joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

London, England
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joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

My daughter is currently in Siena and intends to join the crowd in the centre of the Campo to watch the Palio on Aug 16th. By chance I got talking to someone who told me to steer her away from this decision as it can be scary and dangerous to be in that crowd.

On the other hand, it is one of Italy's great spectacles and of course it would be great to witness it. Has anyone been there and what would they advise?

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

I can't imagine that it would be in any way dangerous, but it is certainly crowded. She would have to get to the Campo very early to get a spot against the railings, which is the only place where she will see anything of the race. Even then, she will see only a short section of the track, with horses thundering past.

She will need good bladder control. Once the parade starts, it is not possible to leave the centre of the Campo. Even before that, if she leaves her spot it will be taken by someone else.

We were in Siena for the July Palio in 2006 and attended one of the practice races in the Campo. We felt we had not seen much of the race. We had a room overlooking the street where the parade was prepared, so on the Palio day we stayed in our room and looked at the activities in the street, but watched the actual race on our television.

One thing she should not miss is to go to one of the contrada dinners the night before the Palio.

London, England
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2. Re: joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

How wonderful to get an instant reply from the other side of the world! Thank you very much for this advice. I will pass it on and will certainly encourage my daughter to attend a Contrada dinner.

Manchester, United...
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3. Re: joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

Do it - you'll have an unforgettable experience. You probably won't see much of the race, as pointed out above. And anyway, it's all over in about 90 seconds! But the atmosphere of the occasion is what you go for. I can't describe it - you will have to experience it for yourself.

Get there early, take food, water and something to protect you from the sun. And have a great time.

London, England
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4. Re: joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

Good advice, thank you. It sounds as if valour is the better part of discretion in this particular case!

London, United...
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5. Re: joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

What about attending a practice session for the Palio? When exactly do these happen and what advice can anyone offer please?

siena
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6. Re: joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

I always go in the centre if I'm not working, its a great attmosphere and have never seen any problems.Ok you dont see alot but just watch it on local TV later.

I usually watch the old parade pass from outside and then enter the Piazza from the old market place which is the last entrance to close.

its crowded getting in but once you are in the centre its not so bad. i have been in markets where its been more crowded.

the schedules for the trial races etc are here

http://www.ilpalio.org/palio_schedules.htm

If its the only time your daughter is here i would advise her to go

alaska
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7. Re: joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

Many local watch the race on TV so don't feel like you are cheating yourself..

Montepulciano, Italy
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8. Re: joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

I've never thought of it as being dangerous, merely very hot and very uncomfortable (having been in the middle of Il Campo) but I suspect the person you got talking to was possibly referring to the young French woman who was attacked at the end of last month's Palio, something that received a lot of attention locally in the papers. It was obviously an isolated case (the attacker was also a tourist, if I remember rightly, for I only glanced at the headlines) and caused uproar in Siena, a city that prides itself on being a safe place for women and certainly one I never worry about wandering around on my own, even latish in the evening. Your daughter's biggest issue will be surviving the heat, escape being trodden on, having to drink loads of water but not being able to get to the loo and then not seeing even a hair of a horse. Terrific experience though and something we should all try once.

La Canada...
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9. Re: joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

I also say don't join the middle of the campo crowd. She will be miserable. A contrada dinner is a must, if possible, but she'll need to find a way to buy a ticket to one. They are huge, but private.

She can enjoy everything around the race itself, but will enjoy herself more watching it on TV in a bar elsewhere in Siena. And tickets to the bleachers are $300-600 and long gone.

South of Boston
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10. Re: joining the Palio crowd in the Campo - yes or no?

We just returned from the August, 2010 Palio. It was an event that had caught my imagination over 20 years ago, and we started off an anniversary trip to Italy by going to Siena for 3 nights.

Regarding camping in the middle, it is very crowded at race time. At least 6 people needed to be taken out by medics, more than likely heat, crowds, etc. Also, the race was delayed because a person near the fence got hit by a flag being thrown just before the start. They were removed by ambulance! Poor thing, because the person had to be standing there for hours!

We did the ticket-thing in the balcony, and it was packaged with a contrada dinner (Selva, the only horse that fell). It was expensive, but well worth the experience of a beautiful city and an event that has intrigued me for years.