Palio di Siena 2018 - Siena's Palio Horse Race

The Palio di Siena: Italy’s Most Famous Horse Race

A look at the fast, furious, and controversial tradition.

On July 2 and August 16 each year, thousands of spectators fill Siena’s main square, the Piazza del Campo, to witness this famous but controversial race dating back to the 16th century. The jockeys ride bareback on 10 horses representing 10 of the Italian city's 17 districts (or "contrade"), with the winner receiving a banner, the "palio." Here, some photos of Il Palio 2018.

JOCKEYS, OR 'FANTINI,' RIDE BAREBACK Awakening/Getty Images JOCKEYS, OR 'FANTINI,' RIDE BAREBACK THE MAKESHIFT RACECOURSE Awakening/Getty Images THE MAKESHIFT RACECOURSE The race, just three laps, is over quickly — typically in under 90 seconds. That brief minute and a half is fast, furious, and very dangerous; as the horses make the tight turns, they often throw their jockeys. The Palio di Siena has also been criticized by animal rights advocates, for the treatment of the horses (upon which jockeys can use whips) and the deadly dangers they face on the course.

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THE BANNER, OR 'PALIO' Awakening/Getty Images THE BANNER, OR 'PALIO' THE WINNING JOCKEY, BRIO OF CONTRADA DRAGO Awakening/Getty Images THE WINNING JOCKEY, BRIO OF CONTRADA DRAGO A WINNING MOMENT WITH THE PRIZE Awakening/Getty Images A WINNING MOMENT WITH THE PRIZE



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