The Palio is the most important event organized in the city of Siena and takes place every year on July 2 and August 16. In the Palio, the different Sienese Contrade, or "zones" into which the city is divided, compete in a passionate horse race in the Piazza del Campo.
Siena is currently divided into 17 Contrade: Aquila, Bruco, Chiocciola, Civetta, Drago, Giraffa, Istrice, Leocorno, Lupa, Nicchio, Oca, Onda, Pantera, Selva, Tartuca, Torre, and Valdimontone.
Each Contrada is distinguished by a unique coat of arms and colors and occupies a specific area of the city. Walking through the streets of Siena you can easily tell which Contrada you are in by looking at the flags and coats of arms displayed along the streets.
The Palio race has very remote origins; in fact, there are records of palios with horses in Siena at least as far back as the seventeenth century.