Palio Excitement 6/2

Sorry for the hiatus but once again I have been super busy. So, following the exhausting trip to Pisa/Lucca on Saturday, came my first experience with a Palio event! Steph and I went to Piaza del Campo to see the lottery for the Palio. Of the 17 contrade, only 10 compete in either the July or August races. So I think that for those contrade who weren’t chosen for the July race last year automatically get into the race this year. So when we got to the Palio, there were already 7 flags hanging on the Palazzo Publico. Then before the lottery started, the Giraffa contrada came in and paraded around the piazza with their flags and dressed in the traditional costumes Palio costumes. I think giraffa got to do this because it just happened to be their weekend to celebrate their contrada or something. I don’t know. Anyway, after the giraffa parade, there was some trumpeting and other fanfare and the first winner was revealed to the crowd! When the contrada flag was placed outside the Palazzo Pubblico, I got to really experience what Palio excitement really is. The people from the contrada that was chosen absolutely SWARMED forward and were jumping up and down and shouting and singing their contrada song. It was pandemonium. This happened 3 more times. The piazza was absolutely packed for the lottery and so after a flag was revealed, a section of the block of humanity on the piazza would just suddenly separate from the pack and rush forward. It was really cool to see. We were also lucky enough that we accidentally placed ourselves within one of the sections that was picked and got to be int he middle of the excitement. We were also thankfully not trampled since the contrada group that was surrounding us was too far back to move forward so they contented themselves with shouting and jumping. There was some taunting and rival singing between contrada groups but no real fights or anything. Apparently, a few years ago, some contrade disgraced themselves by fighting each other or something like that, and were banned from the Palio for I think 2 years. So, the conflicts between groups stay rather tame. The entire raffle event took all of maybe 15 minutes at most with maybe 8 minutes of actual celebrating and picking and such. So, a very short event but so exciting that it was the highlight of my day.