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Ali & Jase’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 27 Mar 2013

Location: Siena, Italy

MapDrove about an hour north to Siena, also a medieval settlement on a hill, but this time it's a city with a heavy political history, murderous family feuds and (according to the book Juliet) the original setting of Romeo & Juliet before Shakespeare got a hold of the story.

The Piazza del Campo is a very large square in the middle of the city which is the natural congregating point of foreign exchange students, tourists, pigeons and gelato shops. It is also the setting for Il Palio, a twice-yearly horse race during which the Campo becomes a horse race track and 10 horses (representing neighbourhood 'contrade') & their bareback riders race three times around the square with a speed and violence that would make your hair curl. Each lap takes about 20 seconds and the only rule is that you can't interfere with another horse's reins, but anything else is fine, including beating other jockeys with your whip, and so on. So the neighbourhood feuds continue to this day but this time centred around the race.

We had a look through the Palazzo Pubblico (town hall with various frescos and interesting rooms) but unfortunately we just missed the last entries into the Duomo (cathedral).