IN PICTURES: Hundreds gather for historic Siena palio

The second of Siena's two annual horse races took place on Tuesday, watched by huge crowds of locals and tourists alike.

IN PICTURES: Hundreds gather for historic Siena palio
Supporters cheer on jockey Jonatan Bartoletti. Photo: Claudio Giovannini/AFP

The race has its origins in the sixteenth century, organized by the rival districts or 'contrade' of Siena.

When bullfighting was outlawed in 1590, the races were introduced as an alternative. Buffalo and donkeys were used before horses.

These days, the festivities begin with an 8am mass and each contrada carries out a blessing of their horse. Then there is a medieval pageant, the Corteo Storico, which sees residents dressed in the colours of their contrada, carrying flags and accompanied by live bands. These processions then lead to the central Piazza del Campo for the main event of the day: the race.

Jockeys representing ten of Siena's seventeen contrade race around the clay-covered Piazza del Campo, and the race is usually over in little more than a minute.

This year, the race was won by Jonathan Bartoletti and the horse Preziosa Penelope, representing the Lupa contrada – the duo had also won this year's earlier race on July 2nd. The prize for the winners is a large canvas painted by a local artist, which goes on display in the winning contrada's museum.

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