In their aqua suits,Volunteer Vets and Vet Techs (I THINK that’s what their badges said) are a colorful group, and watchful. I saw one injury, and it wasn’t to a horse: because the Mossiere (Starter) hesitated for a second when he dropped the <canape, to signal the start of the race, 2 of the jockeys flew over the heads of their horses. A minute later, several Misericordia (EMT) pushed passed me with one of the jockeys: a broken finger! These professional bareback-riders are slight, steely-eyed men, and while the broken finger kept out the contrade of Chiocciola’s rider this morning, everybody expects him back for tonight’s Prova.

The Mossiere (Starter):
√ He will be the only person in the Campo not to watch the race. As soon as he drops the canape – it could take several minutes or an hour to get a “Fair Start” – he will be immediately escorted out of the Campo by Polizei, then driven from the city. As people here say, “He’ll be at the city walls by the time the race ends!”

Although still something of an exercise in futility, the occasional video is the best way share Palio. CONTEXT:
The canon goes off 4 times:
√ to call the horses from their contrada stall (17 contrade, 17 stalls…also 17 churches, 17 museums, 17 fountains, but I digress).
√ to signal the clearing of the track: hawk-eyed polizei and tireless track-sweepers (mostly women, this year) stride onto and around the racecourse; once the track is cleared of people and debris, the contrade capitani and the mossiere walk to the starting line.
√to call the horses and jockeys from the inner courtyard of the Palazzo Pubblico.
√ to announce the end of the race: a winner has been declared.
Having heard the first canon, we ran to the Campo and arrived with the horses (and their jockeys and trainers); I was standing idly by, when the next signal boomed.
(this one’s really more for listening than viewing!)

These moms and kids from the contrada of Tortuga have some the best seats in the house!

After the Prova, sprayers and tampers go to work, preparing for the next one.

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