The actual “Palio” is a banner given to the winner of the race. Palio means “prize” but it has also become the name for the entire event and the race itself.
The Palio for August, 2011 is white-on-white of The Madonna and is very beautiful but a bit hard to see. The reverse side is black velvet.
When the Palio enters the Piazza it is placed on a corner near the Captains Balcony and then seized by the winning contrada after the race.
The winners then parade the Palio all over town at any time of day or night. I have witnessed and experienced this thoroughly by living near the Oca headquarters for the last few weeks (the winners of the July Palio).