Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Palio Marches and Trials (by Sarah)

SIENA (#67)

We thought we could have a little rest for a while after our trip and all our guests, but NO WAY! We are all busy seeing friends all the time. The Palio is on Friday, and this whole week is going to be busier than ever.

First, there have been the marches or giri of the contrade. Each of the contrade have their turn to march or girare through the streets of Siena and pay respects to friendly contrade, the Commune, and the Bishop. The marches started about a month ago. Mom and Dad went on the Onda giro on Sunday.

Then, on Monday, there was the unofficial trial of horses running around the piazza for the first time. Dad woke up at 5 am to watch them and took some pictures. We went to dinner in the contrada of Bruco (the caterpillar) along with the Duccis.

The next day, Tuesday, was the choosing of which horses would run in the Palio. The captains of the contrade selected 10 out of the 22 horses. After, the horses were randomly given to the different contrade and then were taken to the stalls in each of the neighborhoods. Soon after the Capitani of each contrada started making phone calls to see which jockies would ride for them.

Later that day I went with my friends Benedetta and Mattia at around 5 pm and marched with their contrada – chiocciola (the snail) on their giro.

At around 8 pm, we made it back into the Piazza del Campo for the first prova (test run). This was an important run because it was the first time that the horses and jockeys would be running for their specific contrade. Some jockeys and horses try to go easy on the prova so that they won’t get injured and save the energy for when it really matters – the Palio. But, the good horses were still obvious.

Today, I woke up at around 7 to meet my friends to see the second prova. It went well; no one is injured yet! Tonight there is another prova, but for now I am just having a little rest!!

Ed note: The trials or prove serve several functions. First of all, they allow new horses to and new jockies to learn the track and experience some of the Palio tension. In addition, they allow these horses and jockies to be seen by the contrade. And finally, the three-day period of trials is used to negotiate with jockies and allied contrade. -- SQ

COMMENTS from the original blog

2004-06-30 19:20:38 Barbara
Re: Palio Marches and Trials (by Sarah)
This is so fascinating, but I have a question.  I thought each contrada selected its horse months in advance and worked with its jockey.  But you mention that the top ten horses are randomly assigned to the contrade.  Does that mean that the first time the horse and jockey get to work with each other is at the beginning of the three-day period?

2004-07-01 08:51:27 doreen
Re: Palio Marches and Trials (by Sarah)
Absolutely.  The horse is randomly assigned on June 29th, mid-day.  The Contrada Capitano and consultants spend until 7:45pm that day contracting a jockey (even if they've pre-arranged a jockey, some won't ride a bad horse, no matter how much they are paid).  There are then 5 trials (prove) --morning (9:30am) and evening (7:45pm) for the next 2 1/2 days.  During these, the jockeys don't necessarily ride to win but instead will work on specific aspects of the course --the start, the deadly San Martino turn etc.  There can still be change of jockey up until the time of the race.

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