Palio FAQ | Palio di Siena tickets

Palio FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the race run for the Palio in Siena?
Since the mid 1600s the Palio di Siena has been run for both the July 2nd and August 16th race in the city's famous city 'square', Piazza del Campo. The piazza is not in a typical square or rectangular shape, but more in the shape of sea shell, curved at the top, flat on the bottom. The race is run (3 laps) in a clockwise direction around the piazza on the clay "track" that is layed down in the campo for the race.
What ticket options are available in the package?
Reserved tickets for the Palio and the historic parade that precedes it, come in 3 categories - 1) balcony (on the buildings that surround the campo) offering seated or standing positions; 2) windows in the same buildings that surround and overlook the campo; and 3) grandstand seats (bleachers or 'palco' as they are called) - the grandstands are located at ground level on the perimeter of the race track and in front of the buildings that surround the track area.
Where are Palio Tours tickets located?
Our tickets are in the shaded sections of the campo. They are offered at Mossa (the Start/Finish Line), or away from the start line at either Fonte Gaia or Casato. We have Grandstand seats and Balcony seats (or balcony standing positions) in each of these 3 ticket locations. We also have private apartments with windows to offer for Palio Tickets and or Trial Race tickets. For reference, the 4th area in the campo for tickets - San Martino - we do not use this area for our tickets, since it lies in the sun. A visual of these generally descriptive ticket locations can be seen here: Piazza del Campo per Palio.
Are the Palio Tours tickets located in the shaded areas of the campo?
Yes, our tickets are in the shaded areas of the campo. For more details on ticket locations read the question/answer above.
From the Grandstands are we able to see to the far side as the race as it moves around the track?
Yes, given the campo has a natural downward slope (going away from the grandstands towards the Torre del Mangia) you are able to see the race and the action as it moves around to the far side for the 3 laps it takes to complete.
How are ticket prices determined?
There are some guidelines set down by the city of Siena, but somewhat ignored by the 100+ so called 'ticket owners' (private owners of the grandstand sections, balconies and windows). In essence prices are based on your proximity to the start/finish line, known as the 'Mossa'. The closer you are to the Mossa, the higher the price. Individual tickets at the Mossa can range between 450 and 600 euro. Other locations range in price from 300 to 450 euro.
What happens if it rains?
If there is rain on the day of the Palio (July 2nd or August 16), making the track conditions not suitable to run the race, then the race will be rescheduled for the next day (July 3rd or August 17) or even the day after if necessary. Your tickets, are good for the race whichever day it is run. Unfortuantely there are are no refunds if you are not able to stay on for the rescheduled race.
If we cannot make our trip, what is the cancellation / refund policy policy?
Palio Tickets are non-refundable. However, resale provisions are given in case of cancellations - please see our Terms and Conditions for further details in regard to Tickets and Package reservations for the Palio.
When will we receive our tickets?
Actual Palio Tickets for the race and reservation tickets for the Contrada dinner will be given to you in Siena. The specific location for "pick-up" and times of operation will be given in your ticket package documents. Once your reservation is confirmed and fully paid for, a detailed ticket information package will be emailed to you, listing all the necessary Siena contact information. Our tour director and other company personnel are in Siena for each race and will be in available during the days of the festival in order to help you with tickets or other festival related issues. We do not mail Palio tickets for several logistical reasons, primarily to avoid any problems (i.e. lost in the regular mail; forgotten at home).
If we don't purchase tickets, will we be able to see the race from the square/street?
You cannot see the race or the historical parade that precedes it unless you are in a reserved ticket position or in the the center of the campo, where you can stand in the sun for the 3 plus hours prior to the race. Our ticket positions are in the shaded sections of the campo.
What time does the race start and end?
The time to be in your reserved ticket position is by 4:45pm; in most instances the race/event will over by 8:30pm.
What happens after the race?
After the winning horse/jockey crosses the finish line, a full celebration of the winning Contrada will begin (as one could expect). Once this celebration starts there is no time limit; eventually the winning Contrada members will make their way with their winning horse and jockey to leave the campo, passing Fonte Gaia and exiting the campo at San Martino. In July, the winning Contrada take their celebration to the Church of the Provenzano; in August the celebration finds its way to the Duomo (Siena Cathedral).
Is parking available if we arrive by car for Trial races or the Day of the Palio?
Yes, there are defined pay-to-park (blue line) areas and also pay-to-park covered parking garages around the perimeter of the historical city. From these areas you would then walk in to the city center. With the many people arriving, naturally the earlier you arrive, the more chance of finding a spot to park.
Are there other activities or celebrations in conjunction with the race?
There are several activities to be aware of. On the day of the race (July 2 or August 16) the 'horse blessings' begin at about 2:30pm in the respective churches of each Contrada. This activity is free, but obviously you will give way to any Contrada member before entering the church; the 'in city' parade begins after the hourse blessings; the historical parade begins in the campo just after 5:00pm (a little earlier in August); the historical parade lasts approx 2 hours; the race gets ready to begin after the parade is completed. After the race by tradition, the winning Contrada will leave in celebration from the campo to go first the Church of Provenzano (July race) or the Duomo (August race). Afterwards they will proceed to their own neighborhood for more celebrations.
Tell us more about the balcony positions?
For balconies we offer both seated as well as standing positions. Typically the seats are in the form or individual chairs or in some cases benches and are placed in front of a step-up bench used for the standing positions. In either case the positions are assigned - in other words if you decide to leave your position and for instance step inside the adjoining apartment or shop you will not loose your position on the balcony to someone else.
Is it possible to have a private balcony or window?
Yes - Balconies or individual windows can be reserved for private use; naturally it depends on the size of your group. Please contact us with any custom requests.
Is there access to restrooms?
Only in some of the Balcony locations is there a restroom available. The Grandstands do not provide access to restroom, as the restaurants and bars in the buildings behind the grandstand seating (bleachers) are not open during the time of the Palio; only before and after the race are they open.
Our children will join us on this trip - can they attend the Palio? Are there discounts for children?
Yes, children can attend, but suggest the minimum age to consider is 5 years. Unfortunately, discounts for Palio tickets are not offered for children.
I have a small child - can they sit on my lap while we are in our seats?
Sorry it is not possible. This is primarily due to lack of sufficient space in either the reserved grandstands or seated balcony positions, as well as general safety concerns. In addition, it should be noted you will be in your reserved seats for 3+ hours - the short 3 lap race is preceded by a lengthy historical parade.
Will food be served during the Palio or should we bring food?
Some of our Balcony options will serve a light buffet in the adjoining apartment (or shop), along with beverages during the two-hour parade that precedes the race. Therefore, with these options it is not necessary to bring your own food and it is otherwise requested not to bring any food items, additional wine, alcohol or glass bottles. For grandstand reserved seating you are permitted to bring your own beverages in plastic bottles; possibly some light food is also permitted, but in either case these items cannot be carried in coolers or other large containers; Restrooms are not available for the grandstand seating, some of the balcony/apartment locations will provide a restroom.
What is featured in the city tour and contrada museum; how long does it last?
The city tour lasts about 1.5 hours and includes the major highlights of Siena, including the most unique part of the tour, a visit to one of the Contrada Museums. Each Contrada (17) has their own museum, which contains many historical and artistic pieces, representing the history of the Contrada and Siena. One of the items of interest are the victory banner taken by the Contrada when it wins a Palio. During the Palio, only through a special reservation request can one access these museum treasures. Our Package provides you this reservation.
What is the 'Contrada Dinner' and who attends?
Known to the Sienese as the 'Cena Prova Generale', each of the 10 Contrada who will participate in the race will hold and invitation-only dinner in Siena the night before the race (July 1st or August 15th). The setting for each dinner is outdoors in a special street or piazza within the respective Contrada (district). Depending on the size of the Contrada, some dinners are served in this fashion for well over a 1,000 Contrada members and their guests. The dinners are by invitation only (you cannot arrive in Siena and simply walk up to purchase a ticket). The dinner while of course festive is also a way to raise money to support the needs of the Contrada. The dinner is 4-courses, served with wine and of course the ambiance of a very special evening.
In which Contrada will we have our dinner?
The selection for the Contrada is naturally based on who runs (only 10 of the 17 Contrade are in any one race) and with whom we have a local contact with. We personally know individuals in many of the Contrade, so we are sure to have these very special tickets to offer to our clients. You will be informed prior to your arrival in Siena as to which Contrada dinner you will attend. At least one of our representatives will be at the dinner(s) we choose to attend. For more on the Contrada click here.
What or when are the Trial Races?
There are 6 trial races (prove) during the 4 Days of the Palio. The most exciting of these are the 3 evening prove (7:15pm on June 29, 30, July 1st, or at 7:00pm August 13, 14, 15th) - members of each Contrada will be in the campo to support their cause. Tickets are are optional and therefore not part of the Base Package. The additional cost is 65 euro per ticket. Of the 3 evening races, the most typical choice is the last one on either July 1st or August 15th, known as the 'prova generale', given it precedes the Contrada dinner (Cena Prova Generale) held later in the evening. Unlike the final race, there is not a parade or procession prior to any of the trial races; the entry time is therefore much later, recommended at 7:00pm pm. Also please note for various reasons, trial race tickets are generally not in the same location as your Palio Tickets.
Can you reserve the grandstands for the Trial Races?
Typically not, since grandstand seats are taken by the different Contrada and their members. They even take many of the balconies. This leaves a few other balconies and windows available for "general" specatator use. Which is where our Trial Races tickes are located.