Today is Il Palio, the rough and tumble bareback horse race circling the Piazza del Campo in beautiful, medieval Siena. In the race, ten horses and riders, selected from the seventeen contrade (neighborhoods), circle the Campo three times. The race lasts 90 seconds. Ironically, with its unfurled silk banners and medieval garb, and of course its incomparable setting, a piazza that hasn't changed since the Black Death, the race exists beyond time, a chunk of the Middle Ages catapulted into the present day.
To watch the race (and to hear a chilly English academic dissect it in dry sociological terms) watch this film clip.
After a chance encounter in Siena, we're rooting for the snails this year. To see why, and to watch another hair-raising race, read my previous post about the Palio here.
Latebreaking news: We just learned the Tartuca (tortoise) contrada won today's race. Good job, turtles!