During the months of July and August, Siena comes alive with colour, costumes, flags, drums and fanfare. It’s Corteo Storico time, the parade before the famous Palio (horse race). It is quite the spectacle and it is hard not to get caught up in ancient tradition.
The parade commences prior to the Palio and features representatives of the contrade (districts) of Siena. Each district consists of men dressed in their district colours . The costumes include tights, puffy shirts and feathered hats. The men either play the drums or carry the flag of their district. The flags represent various occupations including tailors, weavers, potters, sculptors, pharmacists, dye makers, bankers, goldsmiths, notaries, tanners, cobblers, painters, silk makers, carpenters, wool makers, and smiths.
The procession enters the Piazza del Campo in the late afternoon on the first toll of the bell. Drummers, trumpeters and flag bearers proceed through the streets. At various locations, the procession stops and during a drum roll, the flag bearers begin waving their flags before throwing them into the air.