Palii Straordinari

Initially, the third Palio was challenged to honor prominent guests during a visit to Siena. All that was needed was to send a request to the Grand Duke to organize another, preferably on a date near an “ordinary” one. Some Palii Straordinari also had an economic interest. In 1841 and 1842 2 palios with all 17 contrade were organized by some citizens and the owners of the stands on the Piazza.

Later, other associations also took the initiative to sponsor the organization of a Palio. Palios with scossi were organized, as well as some “palio alla romana”, in which the participating neighborhoods were divided into batterie with a final with the winners of the batterie at the end. The last one, in 1901, ended in a big fight, so the final was not even ridden.

In 1896 even 4 palios were ran, 2 ordinary and 2 straordinari. They wanted to do the same in 1913, but then the Palio alla sorpresa of August 17 was canceled because the ordinary of August 16 was delayed by the weather.

The palii a sopreso were an important novelty at the beginning of 1900. These races were invariably presented by associations from Siena. The formula to organize an extra palio the day after the course of August in which contrade, horses and fantini were drawn was very appealing. At the beginning of 1900, 6 straordinari were ran in a period of 17 years. Between 1928 and 1945 there was a break and none were organised.

The third Palio returned in 1945 when the people demanded an extra palio on the evening of the August 16th palio to celebrate the end of the war. After all, no palio was ran between 1940 and 1944. It was a big success.

In the following years, Siena became used to celebrate many 100-year birthdays with a straordinario. Every opportunity seemed good enough to furnish a Straordinario. At the end of the 1980s in Siena, people began to realize that a Palio Straordinario had become a risky venture for 3 reasons. First, the contrade could no longer cope financially. The costs, and especially the contracting of top riders, had completely got out of hand. A third Palio had become too much for the contrade budget. Secondly, the city was also a bit worried about the considerable costs of organization. Thirdly, Siena slowly but surely began to attract the negative interest of all kinds of animal protection organizations, which, incidentally, began to make inappropriate comparisons with the corrida. The media were very happy that a new big can of sensation had been opened and took a strong part in the polemics, never disturbed by any knowledge of the matter. As a result, the city council was faced with a third annual “defying fate”.

The last straordinario was disputed on October 20,  2018, to celebrate the end of the Great War 100 years earlier.

To date, no fewer than 48 Palii Straordinari have been driven. We are happy to list the 5 types:

  • “alla romana” : at first a few batterie are ridden with 3 or 4 contrade. The winners compeet in a final race
  • “cavalli scossi” : a palio without jockeys
  • “a sorpresa” : horse, contrade and jockey are to be drawn the day of the race
  • “all 17 contrade” : some of them were ridden with, other without fantino
  • all others were organised in the same way they organise Palios in july or august
03/07/1712 Chiocciolabaio di SienaStrega
02/07/1717 TorreGioiaStrega
01/05/1722 TartucaBelladonnaStrega
02/04/1739 BrucoleardoPettinaio
04/10/1745 Panterabaio scuro della ScalaMasino
14/05/1767 Torrecastagno del RicciBastiancino
17/04/1791 Valdimontonebaio bruciato del DeiNacche
20/08/1804 Tartucasauro balzano del RicciGiuseppetto
14/05/1809 Torrebaio scuro del ManettiBiggeri
04/06/1809°¹TartucaRondinellocorso con cavalli scossi
19/08/1818 Istricecastagno balzano del FalconiFerrino
30/03/1819 Civettamorello del ChiariniCaino
18/08/1839¹Panteracavallo del Bianchicorso con cavalli scossi
17/08/1841°Nicchiomorello maltinto del BarbettiBetto
17/04/1860 Ondamorello stellino del BandiniFiglio di Bonino
28/09/1862 Ondamorello del FranciBachicche
17/08/1875²Nicchiostorno del PisaniGirocche
17/08/1884¹ValdimontoneFarfallinacorso con cavalli scossi
17/08/1887¹AquilaGigiacorso con cavalli scossi
18/08/1889¹Dragobaia zaino del Marchetticorso con cavalli scossi
29/05/1893 Ondabaia marrone del RamalliBozzetto
16/08/1896*Brucobaia stella in fronte del VallesiFiammifero
23/09/1896 IstriceFeboMontieri
28/09/1902 Valdimontonesaura con fiore in frontePicino
17/04/1904 LeocornoPrimettaPicino
18/08/1907¹LupaGobbacorso con cavalli scossi
13/09/1910 TorreGobbaMoro
25/09/1913 Giraffasauro balzano del SociniTestina
14/09/1928 OndaGiaccaSgonfio
20/08/1945 DragoFolcoRubacuori
18/05/1947 CivettaBrillanteIl Biondo
28/05/1950 ValdimontoneGaiaGanascia
05/09/1954 LeocornoGaudenziaVittorino
04/09/1960 CivettaUberta de MoresCiancone
05/09/1961 NicchioUberta de MoresVittorino
24/09/1967 GiraffaEttoreTristezza
21/09/1969 OcaDragoneAceto
17/09/1972 IstriceMirabellaAceto
07/09/1980 SelvaPanezioBastiano
13/09/1986 ValdimontoneBrandanoIl Pesse
09/09/2000 SelvaUrban IIIl Pesse
20/10/2018 TartucaRemorexTempesta
°all contrade
¹with cavalli scossi
²alla romana
³a sorpresa
*held instead of the ordinary Palio which was postponed until 25 august


















Last update : 9 december 2019