The Palio of Siena: a must, to be seen at least once in a lifetime!

Close to Siena , "Contradas" flags in Villa le Barone's fitness room

The Palio of Siena horse race that takes place on July 2nd  and August 16th  in the Piazza del Campo should be seen at least once in a lifetime: The race itself lasts a very short time, but it is preceded by a beautiful parade where each “contrada” (neighborhood) participated  garbed in its historical costumes.

During the 4 days preceding the Palio, Siena also becomes the venue for parties and the occasion for several celebrations.
Our Reception can book tickets for the Palio of Siena, either July 2nd or August 16th. And after the hectic crowd in Siena, you will return to the relaxing quiet atmosphere of Villa le Barone, just 40 minutes away.

The Palio of Siena is an event that has always been part of the life of Siena’s inhabitants. Each year the Sienese go crazy for the Palio, which takes place since 1644 in the central Piazza del Campo.
The first races were with “buffalo” type cattle, later on donkeys and finally real horse races were held. Today, the race takes place between 10 districts (“contrada”) of the seventeen in the city.  Violante, Princess of Bavaria, governor of the city at that time, established in 1729 seventeen districts or “contrade” (Contrada is the singular). Even today, Siena has 17 contrade, almost all named after  an animal: Aquila (Eagle) Bruco (Caterpillar), Chiocciola (Snail), Civetta (Owl), Drago (Dragon), Giraffa (Giraffe), Istrice (Porcupine), Leocorno (Unicorn), Lupa (She-Wolf), Nicchio (Shell), Oca (Goose), Onda (Wave), Pantera (Panther), Selva (Forest), Tartuca (Tortoise), Torre (Tower), Valdimontone (Aries). Six other contrade do not exist anymore, but existed before 1675 Quercia (oak), Vipera (Viper), Orso (Bear), Leone (Lion), Gallo (Rooster) and Spadaforte (Sword) and were disqualified because of their violence. Although they are now extinct they always march alongside others in the traditional procession of flag bearers, drummers and trumpeters, which precedes the race. Each contrada is headed by a Prior and each contrada has its own church, its symbol, its flag, its songs, its codes, its colors.

Siena is preparing for the Palio and flags are displayed

Palio rules are very complex and only a true Sienese can explain you all the subtleties! The race itself takes a very short time for the horse / rider team, representing one of the seventeen districts of the city, to run the three laps around the square. But the race is preceded by a spectacular grand parade. With colorful costumes and very  lively, all contradas are present with drums,  notables, horsemen,  … flag bearers throw their flags  with their staff high in the air and then catch them adroitly back. The horses and riders wear the colors and weapons of their district. During the race, riders ride bareback. They have the right to use their whip to hit other horses and their riders. The winner is the first horse (not necessarily the rider since he can fall!) that finishes the race, as long as  its head ornaments is still intact. The winner gets the Palio flag, painted specially for the event. That’s when the big party in the winning “contrada” begins!

Staying at the historic Hotel Villa le Barone, near Siena, you will enjoy this beautiful city and if you like, go attend the  Palio, an event worth seeing at least once in one’s lifetime. We can reserve a place for you!

Concerts in Tuscany and Chianti close to Villa le Barone

Some concerts during the International Music Festival Linari Classic will be held at the Castello della Peneretta close to Villa le Barone in Tuscany

The International Music Festival Linari Classic takes place every year in Chianti and in Tuscany close to our charming hotel Villa le Barone. This year the festival will be held in July. Amongst other venues are Castello di Volpaia,  Castello della Paneretta, Badia a Coltibuono, and Pieve Sant’Appiano.

After 11 years of wonderful concerts as part of the Linari Classic International Music Festival, Airdrie Armstrong, the Artistic Director organizes eight concerts that will be held from June 30th to July 28th. Many of the concerts will take place in various private Tuscan locations specially opened for this festival. Famous musicians will participate and these events should not be missed.
Among the musicians are the Schubert Ensemble of London who will play on July 14 at the Castello della Paneretta with a program including quartets from Gustav Mahler, Robert Schuman and Anton Dvorak. The concert will be followed by a dinner enabling the public to meet the artists and the other music lovers attending the concert.

Volpaia,in Tuscany, close to Villa le barone, where some concerts of the International Music Festival Linari Classic will be held

The Nash Ensemble will perform at Castello di Nipozzano on 24 July with works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Bela Bartok, Igor Stravinsky, and Johannes Brahms. The Dutch mezzo soprano, Rosanne van Sandwijk accompanied by pianist Hans Eijsackers will play at Castello di Volpaia,  bringing to the festival  the charm of Lieder. Here also a dinner will follow.
We hope that the announcement of the International Music Festival in Tuscany, Linari Classic, will incite you to stay in the wonderful environment of our countryside  hotel Villa le Barone, and to take advantage of the many concerts that will take place throughout  July in these beautiful superb Tuscan settings selected for the festival .

The “Eroica“ and Bike tours in Chianti

Paola, Bar Ucci, Volpaia in Chianti, on the "Eroica" Road, near Villa le Barone

There are wonderful opportunities in the Chianti area around Villa le Barone for walking and cycling.  Coming for the weekend on the occasion of the ” Eroica ” (Heroic) race to be held on October 5th  will give the opportunity to see both the Eroica (and why not participate in this legendary race ?)  and admire  Chianti in Autumn.

The “Eroica ” (the “Heroic”” ) is a race on the gravel roads of Chianti, organized since 1997. As the organizers say, it is a “poem written with a bicycle» through vineyards, forests of oak and chestnut trees, through medieval villages and through the stunning scenery of the Tuscan hills. The bicycles of participants (5000 are expected this year) are of course “vintage” cycles,  dating from the heroic times of the early races in the fifties and the sixties .

A cyclist at Villa le Barone, Panzano in Chianti

The race is organized to suit all levels of riders’ capabilities with routes of varying lengths. The shortest route is 38 kms, with an elevation of 700m, just enough to taste the atmosphere of the “Eroica “. The second route is 75 kms, through the Chianti Classico region with an elevation of 1900m and allows participants to penetrate into the history of this fantastic race. With the other two routes 135 and 209 kms (with an elevation of 3700m and more), emotions and sensations are guaranteed!

The 75 kms itinerary passes through Volpaia,  close to Villa le Barone and includes a stop at the ” Ristoro di Panzano “, with Chianti wine,  figs,  salamis … and cheerfulness!
The “Eroica ” was born from the love of authentic cycling, with vintage bicycles and also from the love of the natural and architectural heritage of Chianti. To participate in the race means rediscovering the meaning of effort and the beauty of fatigue.
And even without participating in the race, guests of our charming hotel Villa le Barone will be able to discover the passion for cycling that drives so many Italians but also to admire the first colors of autumn and the beauty of Chianti (Our Special offer).