Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Post Scriptum: Chi ha vinto il Palio del 2 luglio?



L'istrice.

That's the contrada that won the Palio on July 2 in Siena. I'm a little late with the news so let's talk Palio facts for those of you who may be interested in attending the next Palio on Aug. 16.

L'istrice means porcupine. No surprise the contrada's motto is: "Sol per difesa io pungo." ("I only bite in self-defense").

The Istrice contrada is based in Via Camollia, which sounds like this in Senese: via Hamollia (as is well-known, Tuscans aspirate the 'c').

One of my professors at the Università per Stranieri in Siena was a member of the Istrice contrada and he took part in a local documentary called "Per Forza o Per Amore," which told of the residents' passion for the Palio (the title suggests they are bound to the Palio by love or just by dint of undying tradition).

Among the other 16 contrade, Istrice's "friends" are Bruco (caterpillar); Chiocciola (Tuscan word for snail, this is the contrada I lived in for a while when I bunked in with my friends Alex and Gillie); Civetta (owl); and Giraffa (I probably don't need to translate!).

His "enemy" is Lupa (wolf).

A word of advice for those who want to go to the second Palio next month: go the prove (trials) that take several nights before the Palio. It's essentially the same thing but it's a practice run instead of the real thing. A lot of locals go to the prove but watch the actual Palio on television (ah modern life).

Of course, there is nothing, nothing like being in Piazza del Campo when the race ends and the members of the winning contrada ambush the jockey and the horse, and a clutch of people scale the viewing stand to manually grab the Palio (which is actually a banner, the one for July 2 is pictured above).

Men are crying, the jockey is smothered with devotion, and the partying intensifies (if you're really in the know, you'll try to wrangle an invitation to one of the contrada dinners that take place in the streets of each contrada).

(Even if you miss or skip the horse races, try to visit Siena in the weeks before the races to see the contrada bands practice -- they march up and down the streets, drumming and waving the neighborhood flags).

Want more information? Visit www.istrice.org for information about the neighborhood that won this month's Palio or for a ton of information on the other contradas and the history of the race, http://palio.comune.siena.it.

Oh and congrats to the Istrice contradaioli!

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