Palio di Siena Special Edition 2018

Exceptionally in October the famous horse race dedicated to 100 years of the end of World War I

20 October 2018


A special edition of the Palio di Siena will be held on 20th October 2018. Even if the usual dates of the Palio of Siena are 2nd July and on 16th august, for special occasions and events it may be decided to organize the so called ‘Palio straordinario’ (extraordinary Palio.) In the past Siena hosted special Palio editions in 1969, celebrating the first man on the moon, and in 2000 for the beginning of the new millennium. It was for the same reason that for the 100 years after the end of the First World War, the Municipality and the Assembly of the contradas agreed to give the town the third Palio of 2018.

On 11th September the assembly of the 17 contradas met to express their vote on the possibility of organizing the Palio di Siena special edition 2018. In spite of the doubts due the tight deadlines and to other internal strategical issues, 10 of the 17 contradas voted for the event. At this point, according to the rules of the special edition Palio, only the approval of the Sienese Municipality assembly was missing, approval which arrived on 14th September. After a series of hypothesis which considered different aspects such as the fact that the celebrations of the Lupa, the winning contrada of the august Palio, would come to an end only on 13th October, the date of the special edition Palio was eventually announced: 20th October 2018.

An autumn Palio…what a nice surprise, isn’t it? If the scorching July temperatures have always held you back from taking part to this wonderful event, now you have an unrepeatable occasion: the chance to enjoy the October Palio in the warm autumn temperatures, definitely more pleasant than the July and August ones!

Apart from the season, ingredients such as the adrenaline, the magic, and the atmosphere will be the same as it has been for centuries. As it is well known, the Palio Festival of Siena, Italy has very ancient roots: the word 'palio’ originates from the Latin word 'pallium' - 'cloak', as the winners of the various races in the Middle Ages, were often rewarded with precious drapes. With the passage of time, the race of the Palio underwent several changes: for a period jockeys challenged each other riding donkeys and then riding buffalos. Only around the 18th century, horses made their appearance. Today they still are the real protagonists of the Palio of Siena with their skilled jockeys.

Curiosity: the real winner of the race is the horse that, by regulation, may cross the finish line without his jockey.

Even the districts of the Palio di Siena came about in ancient times. In 1729 the governor of the city, Violante of Bavaria, divided Siena into 17 small areas: Owl, Giraffe, Unicorn, Eagle, Snail, Ram, Panther, Caterpillar, Wolf, Goose, Selva, Dragon, Tower, Wave, Tortoise, Porcupine and Nicchio. These districts have remained unchanged over the years and are still the ones that take part in the most anticipated event by the Siena inhabitants and beyond: the Palio di Siena in 2018.

The Palio di Siena, nowadays as in the past, isn’t only a folkloristic event or simply a horse race but it represents the most important moment of the life of Siena.

For the Palio the contradas, the districts of Siena, embody the beating heart of the event. Each district is headed by a Prior and the 'carousel' is co-ordinated by a Captain, assisted by a couple of district inhabitants, nicknamed 'Mangini'. Within its territory, each district has a Church and a museum where their highly guarded 'goods' are stored: flags, current and ancient costumes, cloth hangings of past won races, memorabilia, documents and other materials relating to the same district. 

The extraordinary location where the Palio Festival takes place every year in Piazza del Campo, is without doubt, the added value of the event. The original square, which boasts a particular architecture in the shape of a shell, and which changes appearance and colour on the Siena Palio dates 2018: the central part is filled by a colourful crowd in celebration that is surrounded by the track which hosts the actual race, during which the thoroughbreds are ridden by the heroes of the race, the jockeys! All of whom have a small stature, not too heavy and are often appealed with original and funny nicknames. Thanks to their gaudy costumes that characterize the membership to the various districts, the Palio di Siena takes on an even more lively and festive appearance.

The Palio di Siena is a very busy time for its inhabitants as they dedicate themselves to their body and soul. A well-known local proverb says: 'The Palio is run all year', and rightly so: for the inhabitants of Siena, the Palio is a real philosophy of life, difficult to fully understand by those who have never taken part to it. What are you waiting for, then? Have a look at the schedule of the special edition Palio and organize an autumn escape to Siena! If you wish to enjoy all the spirit of this fantastic event and discover more curiosities about it we also suggest to have a look at our Palio Special section where you’ll find some really unique and unmissable experiences.



  • 30th September 5.30 p.m. – Drowing by lot of the contradas racing in the Palio Straordinario 2018
    The ten contradas that will take part to the 2018 special edition of the Palio will be chosen by a lottery.
  • 10th October – Horses Check-ups
    Check-ups will be performed on the horses and if necessary these will continue also the following day. A special veterinary commission will declare the suitability of the animals to the Palio special edition 2018.
  • 14th October – presentation of the Palio (the 'Banner')
    The making of the banner of the special Palio 2018, the drappellone or rug, was entrusted to a painter from Turin but well-known abroad: Gian Marco Montesano. The ‘masgalano’ instead is the price given to best districts of the historical parades preceding the race. This will be designed by the young sienese artist Sara Caffarelli.
  • From 16th to 19th October at 10 a.m and 5.15 p.m - Trials
    These are trials which take place on Piazza del Campo and are used to train the horses on the route of the race.
  • 20th October – Palio horse race
    Even for the special Palio 2018 the day is full of happenings. They begin early in the morning with the ‘Mass of the jockey’, the ‘provaccia’ and the ‘Blessing of the horse’. While we’re writing, the exact times of the different events, which are not the same of the usual dates of the Palio in Siena, haven’t been announced yet. We suggest to check the official website of the event. Anyway, one thing is clear: the horses will go out of the ‘entrone’ at 5 p.m, as for the start, this depends on the ‘mossa’ and nobody knows its exact time!


So, are you ready to leave an other exciting experience? If you wish to enjoy the show in total comfort while tasting some good snacks, then by our tickets for the Palio special edition 2018 directly on our website. All you need is to fill in the appropriate form and after we, ve checked the actual availability you'll receive our reply in no time!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff