City of stone
Siena is an international city of culture with its university with 750 years of history and prestigious institutions such as the Chigiana Musical Academy and the Academy of Fisiocritici and that of Intronati. In Siena, not only culture, but also the city made on a human. In fact, it was the first city in Italy to have closed its center to traffic in 1966; its atmosphere remained unchanged over the centuries with an ancient tradition handed down from father to son.
The town has Etruscan origins and in the medieval times was a Roman colony under the name of Sena Julia besieged by the Lombards to the Carolingian. Around 1147 the city became an independent town favoring a good policy expansion into neighboring territories. Later it was at war with Florence until 1555 when it was conquered by the Florentines becoming part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany until the unification of Italy in 1861.
Siena and the Palio
An ancient tradition that takes place every year in the city is the Palio where all the seventeen Contrade of the city compete for gaining praise and honor with a celebration lasting for four days. Its origins are remote and still in our day there are some regulations dating back to 1644, the year when the first Palio was held. Since then, the Palio was never interrupted excepted during two World Wars. Each Contrada is a small state with the Prior, the Captain assisted by two or three contradictors commonly called mangini or tenants. In the territory of each Contrada, there is a church as the official headquarters with an annexed museum where all the material of the Contrada is preserved, such as memorabilia, detachments of victories, extra costumes, flags and other material relating to the life of the Contrada.