Siena‘s second Palio was run two weeks ago, and Contrada Leocorno (the Unicorn Neighborhood) won the day. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Leocorno, for a couple of reasons – most importantly, it was the Leocorno district where I stayed during my first visit to Siena. I even bought a small tile with the Leocorno banner colors to remember what I considered my adopted neighborhood, and it now rests on my bookcase.
At any rate, Leocorno’s win on August 16th is their 30th win since the 1600s, and their first victory since July 2001 – and since I visited just after the July Palio in 2001, I stayed in the Leocorno neighborhood as they were relishing their win. Residents of Contrada Leocorno will be able to relish this new win for much longer, as the next Palio doesn’t occur until July 2008.
Here’s a video of Leocorno’s winning ride earlier this month:
Those are some happy orange-clad folks at the end of that video, eh?
And if that video wasn’t high-resolution enough for you, keep an eye out for the next 007 movie for what will no doubt be an action-packed sequence featuring the August Palio. That’s right, James Bond finally gets to the famous Siena Palio. Daniel Craig, the latest Bond, was in attendance when Leocorno won, but his scenes will be filmed later and cut in with the actual footage the crew shot during the race.
But even a big-budget Hollywood production didn’t get in the way of a centuries-old tradition, thanks to the watchful eyes of Siena’s local government. Helicopter shots were not permitted, and local officials will have some say in what shots are eventually used in the film. The Sienese people have no desire to promote the Palio as a tourist event, says the Mayor: “Our guests are naturally welcome, but the Palio serves no commercial purpose and has no need to advertise – it is an authentic festival for the people.”
Photo by: Hans van Toorn