The Palio

Perhaps Siena is most famous for the Palio, a bareback horse race run around the beautiful shell-shaped square, the Campo, twice a year, on first Sunday of July and on the 16 August. But this is more than a horse race, it is the culmination of year-round preparations for a tradition which has never faded, and which the Sienese take very seriously. A series of colourful and breathtaking medieval spectacles start four days before each race. The event is still heartfelt by the Sienese and it is not advisable to take small children to see it from the centre of the Piazza del Campo.

Piazza del Campo a Siena, Italy

Accademia Musicale Chigiana

The world-renowned Chigiana Music Accademy is situated in the notable Gothic Palazzo Chigi-Saracini. The academy organizes Master Classes in the major musical instruments as well as singing, conducting and composition. During the summer months a series of concerts are held under the title of Estate Musicale Chigiana.

Giostra di Simone

Giostra di Simone In early August - normally the first weekend - in the tiny hamlet of Montisi there is an annual festival to commemmorate the time the town threw out their feudal lord, Simone Cacciaconti, in the 13th century. It's a festival of food and wine with medieval re-enactments and costumes, the highlight of which is knights on horseback jousting a stuffed figure representing Lord Simon. Later tables are laid along the length of the village streets for a communal meal with dancing and singing. It's wonderful, we've been and it's a fantastic event.

Palio of Casole d'Elsa

Casole Palio In mid July the best village in Tuscany (that's Casole d'Elsa, where I grew up) has its very own Palio, a horse race up the hill below the village to settle which of the local hamlets is champion for the year. Food, flag waving and family fun make this a wonderful day out.