Tuscany is home to a number of festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating everything from music and art to food and wine. Some of the most popular events include the Palio di Siena, a horse race that takes place in the city's historic center

Taditional horse race Palio di Siena and the famous Carnival in Viareggio

The Palio di Siena ​

The annual horse race in Siena is considered the toughest in Italy! Every year on July 2nd and August 16th, the beautiful “Piazza del Campo” in Siena is transformed into a racecourse and the whole city is filled with excitement.

The “Palio di Siena” has its origins in the Middle Ages, when the “contrade” were founded, military companies that were assigned to individual districts. They took care of the well-being of the population in peaceful times and were also responsible for the organisation of games and competitions.

From the beginning, the Palio served as an outlet for the feelings of the population and to carry out the usual small enmities between the “contrade”. There have always been strict rules for the Palio: of the total of 17 “contrade”, only ten are allowed per race. Seven who were not allowed to participate in the previous year and three who were elected by lot. The selected horses will also be allocated to the participating “contrade” by lot. A few days before the actual race, a rehearsal race takes place on the Campo, which is covered with sand and clay.

On the day of the race, the whole city is in a state of emergency! Everything is decorated with the colours and flags of the districts and in Siena nothing runs any more. In the early morning the riders are blessed in the churches of the respective districts, in the afternoon the horses follow. From 3 p.m. the two-hour procession starts at cathedral square, accompanied by flag-wavers, to “Piazza del Campo”.

At 7:30 pm the excitement of the crowd is at its peak: the dangerous race without a saddle begins! The riders and their horses have to circle the place with the dangerous curve three times. The winner receives the elaborately embroidered standard, the “Palio”, and can decorate his “contrade” with the trophy until the next race.

Carnival in Viareggio

The Carnival in Viareggio has its roots in 1873 and is today considered one of the most important social events of our time! Every year for five weeks in February and March, the festivities take place in the picturesque village of Viareggio near Pisa, with exuberant carnival processions, day and night.

The carnival has its origin in the dissatisfaction of the upper class at that time, which took the tax takers by their multicolored decorated parade carts and masquerades on the grain. They wanted to express their displeasure at the excessive tax payments. Since the carnival found much encouragement in the population, it was organized from now on each year. And it became bigger and more pompous: over the years, a procession of ever more impressive papier-mâché figures moved their arms, eyes and mouths to the beat of the official carnival song “Sulla Coppa di Champagne”!

The Cittadelle del Carnevale was founded in 2001. On the site, the exceptional papier-mâché figures are made by artists all year round. In addition to the traditional “Burlamacco” character, caricatures are also often produced that refer to current political problems. The Carnival of Viareggio is now internationally known and guests from all over the world let themselves be carried away by the festivities.

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Tuscany is the most popular region.

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