Palio in Siena: Celebrating Victory

Previously: The Race

The fever of the preceding days and night still lingers in the air as, early on the morning following the race, municipal employees bustle about to bring the Piazza back to "normal", taking down the tribunes and washing the earth off the Campo.

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A single flag now remains on the façade of the Palazzo Pubblico out of the seventeen that were initially there: that of the winner, Civetta.

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The victorious contrada, meanwhile, sets out for a triumphal parade throughout the city.

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Whereas the other horses have been returned to their owners, Istriceddu has been kept for the day to be paraded through the streets by his "barbaresco". A number is painted on both his hindquarters: that of the total number of victories won by Civetta through the years – which amounts to 36, counting back to... 1581!

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Victorious contradaioli march through the city with drums and flags, some of them in costume, triumphantly carrying the freshly-won Palio banner (once the festivities are over, the Palio banner will be kept by the winning contrada and proudly displayed in its museum along with previous ones and other precious artefacts). Many of the marchers either carry baby bottles or suck pacifiers, expressing thereby the feeling of having been reborn through victory...

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Many more parades will be staged in the following days and weeks. The most notable one will take place in September and be followed by the official "victory dinner". On this occasion, a special publication, called "numero unico", commemorating the victory in many details, pictures and anecdotes, will be presented, to be later treasured by many contradaioli.

Festivities will actually last through the fall and well into the winter, reluctantly coming to a close only to enable a new Palio season to begin... Indeed, as the Sienese justly say, "il Palio dura tutto l'anno!" ("the Palio is raced all year long!").

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