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Racing lovers jetting out to Italy from London and South East airports this summer can enjoy a horse race with a difference.

The gorgeous Piazza del Campo of Siena will host the traditional and historical Palio horse race (Palio di Siena) - one of Italy's most famous and popular events. Piazza del Campo is the main public space in this Tuscan city and is regarded as one of Europe's greatest medieval squares with its world-renowned architectural beauty. Travellers can reach Siena via airports such as Florence, Rome and Pisa, with the latter in particular offering reliable bus transfers to Siena.

The Palio di Siena - or Il Palio - is staged twice each year, on July 2 and August 16, and involves 10 bareback riders each. The July edition is called Palio of Provenzano, while the August race is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and called Palio dell'Assunta. The event takes its name “Palio” from the Italian word meaning “banner”. This banner, or Palio, is the prize given to the winner.

The Palio banner is also lovingly referred to by the Senese as the “Drappellone”, the big drape, or the “Cencio”, the rag. A magnificent pageant, the Corteo Storico, precedes the race, which attracts visitors and spectators worldwide. The race itself circles the Piazza del Campo and both the run-up and the day of the race are infused with passion and pride.

Copyright © Press Association 2013