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Races in Casole d’Elsa

The Palio Races in honor of St Isidora (Palio di San Isidoro) are held every year on the second Sunday of July in a small town of Casole d’Elsa.

Unlike the Palio in Siena where horses make a couple of circles on the square, the competition in Casole is held on the open path. Races where start doesn’t coincide with finish are called the “Roman race”. It makes the task more difficult for horse jockeys. Another challenge for horses and jockeys is that the road is loamy.

Casole residents hold festive dinners a week prior to the contests. There are parties in each of the six town districts, Rivellino, Pievalle, Campagna, Il Merlo, Cavallano, Monteguidi. Pre-holiday atmosphere is felt everywhere. All town population anticipates excitement of the competition.

Team members get dressed in stamp colors of their districts. The Palio procedure is strictly regulated by the special committee. There are a number of periods in preparation for the Palio di San Isidoro races.

There is a toss-up on Piazza Comunale at 10 o’clock in the morning on Saturday. Horses are distributed between teams. Training rides are held at 16. Their results determine which four teams will take more favorable start position.

Horses and jockeys are blessed at 18 on Sunday on Piazza della Liberta. The competition starts at 18.30. The audience expresses support to the teams in every possible way encouraging them with shouting and gestures. The winner gets the Palio pendent which will decorate his district till the next competition.

Visiting Casole d’Elsa while the Palio di San Isidoro races, you’ll fully feel the Italian hot temper, get acquainted with interesting traditions and enjoy the astonishing beauty of the Elsa river valley.

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