What a day! So many things occur on the day of the Palio that you have to do some choosing and can’t necessarily completely watch an entire event as the crowds are so thick that getting from one location to another is quite a logistical challenge!
Serena, the guide from the school, took us to a location where we had hoped to follow one of the horses to the contrada church for the benediction. The horses actually go right into the respective contrada church for the blessing and it is a sign of good luck if he leaves a deposit (if you know what I mean!).
The contrada had actually secretly arranged for the blessing to occur earlier than planned so we missed it. The Italians have a lot of superstitions which apparently caused the change in plans!
We then went to the Duomo to watch the Passeggiata Storica, the historic walk. The reason the procession goes past the Duomo is that what was once the main hospital of Siena, Santa Maria della Scala, is opposite the Duomo and it was a way for the sick to get to experience the festivities. The hospital is now a museum but the tradition continues.
We were able to watch about half of the processions before having to leave for the Piazza del Campo! The town was mobbed! It was very difficult to navigate the crowds and we did lose two from our group somewhere along the way but they knew each other and have been to Palio before and are advanced students so we knew they would be okay!