4. Il Palio, Siena & Geology of Tuscany
A splendid and unique opportunity to explore this historic event in Siena.
As well as to study the geology of Tuscany
I wish to share it with you. Accompanied by my own pictures.
On your bucket list?
Immerse yourself in the Italian celebration and traditional colorful pageantry of Il Palio, Siena‘s historic barebacked horse race dating to the 12th century. Travelers venture from all over the world to witness Il Palio.
This is Il Palio:
” Il Palio è il Palio. Nessuna interpretazione sociologica, storica, antropologica, potrebbe spiegarlo. Sublimazione e dannazione insieme del fato di ogni singolo senese e nella sua cittadinanza. Rogo furente della senesità, in ogni caso impareggiabile conferma di essa.”
Mario Luzi, poeta, 1998
The Palio di Siena known locally simply as Il Palio, is a horse race that is held twice each year, on 2 July and 16 August, in Siena, Tuscany, Italy.
This is not a mere touristic event, but a significant part of the life of the city today as it did centuries ago. Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards.
Visitors to the city can assist for free from the centre of Piazza del Campo.
We attended the Palio held on 2 July, named Palio di Provenzano, in honour of the Madonna of Provenzano, a Marian devotion particular to Siena which developed around an icon from the Terzo Camollia.
The Palio held on 16 August is named Palio dell’Assunta, in honour of the Assumption of Mary.
A pageant, the Corteo Storico, precedes the race, which attracts visitors and spectators from around the world.
The race itself, in which the jockeys ride bareback, circles the Piazza del Campo, on which a thick layer of dirt has been laid.
The race is run for three laps of the piazza and usually lasts no more than 90 seconds. It is common for a few of the jockeys to be thrown off their horses while making the treacherous turns in the piazza, and indeed, it is not unusual to see unmounted horses finishing the race without their jockeys.
The drappellone (“banner”), or palio, known affectionately as “the rag” in Siena, is the trophy that is to be delivered to the contrada that wins the Palio.
The palio is an elongated rectangular piece of silk, hand-painted by an artist for the occasion. It is held vertically on a black-and-white shaft halberd and topped by a silver plate, with two white and black plumes draped down the sides.
The palio, along with the plumes, remains the property of the contrada. The plate is returned to the city of Siena before the two Palii of the following year, after the date and the name of the victorious contrada are inscribed on its back. There is one silver platter for the Palio in July and another for the August Palio. The plates are replaced approximately every ten years.
The value of the banner is unique, because it represents a particular historical period of the city of Siena. The palii often reflect the symbols of the various governments that have presided at various times, including the crest of the grand duchy of Lorraine, the crest of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, the crest of the Kingdom of Savoy of Italy, symbols from Fascist Italy, and most recently, imagery of the Republic.
The process that an artist should follow in designing the palio is rigid: it must follow a precise iconography that includes some sacred symbols, as the July Palio is dedicated to the Madonna of Provenzano, and that of August to the Madonna of the Assumption. It must present the insignia of the city, those of the third part of the city, and the symbols or colors of the ten contrade participating in the race. There are, however, no limits regarding the style of the art. The palio is first presented at a press conference in the courtyard of the Podestà of the City Hall about a week before the race.
Reference, our own visits to Siena, Tuscany, La Bella Italia dalla Dolce Vita, many publications on internet, books, magazines etc.
All my own photographs, exept the main, featured one.
Geology of Tuscany and Siena Area.
As an explorationist one is immersed and sees and thinks about geology about everywhere. Also when visiting Siena during holidays, while driving through the scenery, on the beach and in the airplane while looking outside of the window.
The Northern Apennine is a fold-thrust belt built during the Tertiary by the collision between the Apulia (or Adria) microplate related to the African plate, and the Briançonnais microplate (Sardinia-Corsica block), related to the European plate.
In Tuscany there is complete outcropping of the nappe stack of the Northern Apennines. From the bottom the following are exposed:
the Tuscan Metamorphic Units, the Tuscan Nappe, the Subligurian Units, The Ligurian Units, the Epiligurian Succession, the post-orogenic sedimentary succession starting from Middle Miocene to Quaternary.
All these tectonic units are derived from the Apulia continental margin and the Tethys oceanic realm and were emplaced during Tertiary subduction and continental collision.
The geologic map reports metamorphic, sedimentary and magmatic units cropping out in Tuscany, grouped in palaeogeographic domains and in the main tectonic units.
|Tuscan Domain: This domain represents the continental margin of the Apulia microplate. The respective tectonic units are both metamorphic and non-metamorphic.
Geologic cross section across Tuscany – very interesting.
Carta Geologica della Toscana – Geological Map of Tuscany (Italy)
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