Siena Palio Race – Things to do to extend your stay
The Siena Palio horse race is a fantastic historical event which takes place in Siena twice a year. During this time you get to see the build up to the race, enjoy watching the selection of horses, jockeys and districts chosen to take place, get a full introduction to the history of the race, along with an open-air good luck dinner, along with witnessing the thrilling race itself.
But the town is perfectly located for much more than just a few nights enjoying the Siena Palio race, before returning home. Florence is a short drive away and boasts some of the best galleries in the world with the Uffizi and Accademia Galleries. With the nearest airport to Siena being Pisa, it is highly expected that either on arrival or departure as your flight times permit, you will spend an hour or two exploring the Leaning Tower.
For those who love the opera you are spoilt with not one but two incredibly scenic options. You can either attend the Verona opera in an open-air Roman arena with amazing acoustics, or head to Lucca where on the Torre del Lago overlooking the lake, the Puccini Opera Festival is held. For Verona the opera season begins around the last week of June each year and finishes around the end of August. Popular operas include Aida, Carmen, Turandot and Madame Butterfly. For the Puccini Festival the season is shorter and runs from mid July to mid August, with main operas including Tosca and La Boheme.
Sometimes though a holiday is as much about exploration as pre-planned excursions, which with a hire car provides ample opportunities. Siena is very near to some wonderful towns including San Gimignano, which is an easy day walking through the medieval town looking at the remaining towers, enjoying some shopping and if you are brave enough wandering through the torture museum!
Depending on how well you know the region, if you wanted to stay a few nights in the countryside, Hotel Le Fontanelle is an excellent option and has incredible vistas, indoor and outdoor pools and a choice of rooms with some including private gardens and balconies.
Recommended activities near the hotel are varied and include wine tasting, cooking lessons, a picnic for 2, horse riding, hot air ballooning, Ferrari test driving, and even a return to San Gimignano for a gourmet dinner in one of the remaining towers, complete with a soprano to serenade you with song as you arrive.
For first timers to Tuscany or regular connoisseurs, the Siena Palio race is only one reason to visit this beautiful region.