Siena today! We normally choose to take the train when we travel out of Florence, but the trains have a time table with the later trains leaving at about 7:30 at the latest.
Twice a year in Siena there is a huge horse race. We discovered while in Siena that apparently Italians from Siena don't really care as much about soccer as they do about Il Palio, this horse race that occurs here every July and August. In many ways this is what life in Siena revolves around. Il Palio and their contrade.
Anyway, early in the morning we walked to the bus station and caught a taxi to the airport where we took a little shuttle to the car rental place. Car acquired, we headed for Siena.
It isn't a long drive to Siena, perhaps an hour on the main roads, but the roads we took brought us to Monte San Salvino. We had lunch there and walked around a bit.
Finally arriving in Siena we stopped and got gelato and then wandered a bit before heading to the Piazza del Campo where the race was to be held.
Early on the piazza was pretty empty, just with people around the very edges. We headed to the shady side, trying to stay out of the sun and chose a spot to wait for the next several hours until the parade and race.
By the time the historical parade started, the piazza had filled up with tons of people, as well as people hanging from all the balconies and windows, and some sitting in stands around the outside of the track.
The parade went on for at least an hour and a half, but probably longer than that. Each contrada went through with their flag bearers, and uniforms of every kind as well as the race horses (the ones without riders). The detail on the costumes was pretty incredible. Lots of culture!
George Lucas made an appearance...or rather, he was just there to watch the race like the rest of us, but because he was in a building just in front of us, one of the girls next to us noticed he was there. We're not 100% positive it was him, but we're pretty dang sure...