The 6 Extraordinary Churches

Siena Cathedral

The Palio of Siena is already quite an extraordinary event, but when it is decided that there will be a third race in one year (in addition to the typical ones in July and August) it becomes what we called the Extraordinary Palio. When a contrada wins the drape (or Cencio for Sienese people), this is brought for celebration to a church which has been selected specifically for the occasion. This church does not need to be Santa Maria in Provenzano (where July Palio is brought) or the cathedral, Duomo, (where the August Palio is celebrated). We renamed them Extraordinary Churches.

Here you can find the 6 Extraordinary Churches in Siena where the latest Extraordinary Palios have been celebrated:



This Extraordinary Church has been the most recent destination of an extraordinary Palio, as the one raced on October 20 2018, celebrating the end of the First World War, was brought here. Tartuca (the turtle), with jockey Tempesta and horse Remorex (arrived without jockey at the end of the race), won it.

Another Palio brought here is the one of September 7 1980, celebrating the 6th centenary of the death of S. Caterina. Selva (the rhino), with jockey Bastiano and horse Panezio, won it.






This Extraordinary Church “hiddes” inside the more famous ‘Spedale Santa Maria della Scala (old hospital of the city and stopover, in the past, of many pilgrims on the Via Francigena), just in front of the cathedral of Siena. It welcomed the celebration of the extraordinary Palio raced on September 9 2000, celebrating the new millennium. Selva (the rhino), with jockey Il Pesse and horse Urban II, won it.









This Extraordinary Church in Piazza Tolomei welcomed the celebration of the extraordinary Palio of September 13 1986 celebrating the second centenary of the creation of Comunita’ Civica di Siena (Sienese civic community). Valdimontone (the ram), with jockey Il Pesse and horse Brandano, won it.

In addition, it welcomed on Settembre 4 1960 the contrada of Civetta (the owl) that won the extraordinary Palio celebrating the seventh centenary of Montaperti battle. Jockey Ciancone and horse Uberta de Mores achieved this victory.







There are then, of course, the usual suspects like the Cathedral which welcomed the celebration for the extraordinary Palio raced on Settembre 17 1972, which celebrates the fifth centenary of the bank Monte dei Paschi. Istrice (the porcupine), with jockey Aceto and horse Mirabella, won it.

The cathedral hosted also Oca (the goose) that won the extraordinary Palio of September 21 1969 celebrating the moon landing. Jockey Aceto and horse Topolone achieved this victory.







San Vigilio church hosts the University Chapel. This Chapel is a point of reference for all the students coming from other parts of Italy and from abroad. It welcomed the extraordinary Palio of September 24 1967, which celebrated the 49th Congress of the Italian Society of the Advancement of Science. Giraffa (the giraffe), with jockey Tristezza and horse Ettore, won it.







Last, but not least (because as we always remark in Siena all Palios are equally important) among our Extraordinary Churches is the church of Beata Savina Petrilli (or Church of Visitazione), which is just near Piazza San Francesco. This church welcomed the celebration of the extraordinary Palio raced on May 28 1950, celebrating the fifth centenary of canonization of San Bernardino from Siena. Valdimontone (the ram), with jockey Ganascia and horse Gaia (arrived without jockey at the arrival), won it.


Did you like our Extraordinary Churches? If so, you can check out other recommendations on what to do in Siena here.


by Giulia Valacchi