Sunday, June 16, 2013

Palio de Rioni

Palio dei Rioni 

It was such a breath of fresh air when we arrived in Castiglion Fiorentino!  When we stepped off of the train we were greeted by some of the staff from the Santa Chiara Study Center.  We loaded our luggage into the cars that they had brought for us.  It was so nice to get rid of our baggage after lugging it around all day from train to train.  Everyone couldn’t get over the amazing vistas  as we walked to the center.  The scenery looks like a painting everywhere you look because it is so perfect. Tuscany is absolutely beautiful! Needless to say we are all thrilled to have nine days here.

Right now the talk of the town in Castiglion Fiorentino is the horse race that is coming up this Sunday, June 16th.  This tradition began in the 1950s.  The race is called Palio dei Rioni, or Palio for short.  The town is divided into three sections Cassero, Porta Fiorentina, and Porta Romana.  There are two horses and jockeys from each section that compete in the race.  From what we have heard it is a big production, and the whole town participates in the weeklong festivities.  Each section of town has a flag with their colors on it.  Cassero’s flag is blue and white, Porta Fiorentina’s flag is green and orange, and Porta Romana’s colors are red and yellow.  They are hanging all over town!  The Santa Chiara Center is in the Porta Romana district.  People in town are all wearing scarves representing their home districts.  It’s amusing because the townspeople try to convince the Americans to support their own districts.  There is a lot of trash talking and joking between districts going on, but it’s all in good fun.  Each night this week there have been different parties in the district.  I am glad that we are going to be in town this Sunday to experience this local tradition!

It is so nice that the people of Castiglion Fiorentino treat us as locals.  We have been exploring the town a little bit more each day; and everyone has been so kind to us.  I feel very at home here.  It really is going to be hard to leave Castiglion Fiorentino, but we are so thrilled to be here for the time being!

- Emily Darling

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