The Palio dei Rioni of Castiglion Fiorentino

The Palio dei Rioni takes place in the Tuscan town of Castiglion Fiorentino, in the province of Arezzo. This event is rich in history and tradition, dating back to medieval times.

The history of the Palio dei Rioni dates back to the 12th century when the territory of Castiglion Fiorentino was under the rule of Florence. The competition was originally an exhibition of skill and prowess of the knights, who competed in horse races and skill tests, such as flag throwing. Over the centuries, the Palio has become an event even more rooted in local culture and traditions.

The event takes place on the third Sunday of June. The Rioni (districts), which are the historical neighborhoods of Castiglion Fiorentino, compete in an exciting horse race around the Piazzale Garibaldi. The Rioni are characterized by emblems, colors, and distinctive names, each carrying forward its own history and tradition.
You can cheer for the Rione Cassero (white and blue colors), for Porta Fiorentina (green and orange colors), or for Porta Romana (red and yellow colors).

On the day of the race, the streets are decorated with flags and colorful drapes to create an authentic and festive atmosphere. The competition is intense and involves not only the riders but also the inhabitants of the various districts, who support their own Rione with passion and pride.

The day begins with the Holy Mass at the Church of Madonna delle Grazie del Rivaio, dedicated to the race. After the liturgical celebration, horses and jockeys are blessed by the priest in the space in front of the church.

In the afternoon, the spectacular Historical Procession takes place, a representation that includes the parade of the participants from the Rioni: the three groups of people, dressed according to medieval-Renaissance canons and accompanied by their respective groups of musicians and flag throwers, gather in the Piazza del Municipio of Castiglion Fiorentino and then cross the main streets of the historic center waiting for the Palio.

At 6:45 pm on Sunday, a mortar shot is fired to alert the Rioni to prepare, the Palio is approaching. At 7:00 pm all the participating horses must be on the track under the orders of the Mossiere (Race Official).

At the end of the race, the Palio is awarded, a decorated and hand-painted cloth representing the coveted prize for all participating districts. Victory is a cause for great celebration and joy for the winning Rione, while the Palio remains displayed in the Town Hall building until the next edition of the event.

In conclusion, the Palio of Castiglion Fiorentino is much more than a simple sports competition: it is an opportunity to celebrate the history, culture, and pride of the districts and the local community, keeping alive the ancient traditions that make this event so special.

Photos taken from the 'Palio dei Rioni Città di Castiglion Fiorentino' Facebook page