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Italian Sporting Events: 5 Races You Shouldn’t Miss

Palio di Siena

The Italian people are known for their passion, manifesting itself in their love for sports. That same love for friendly competition also demonstrates itself in different forms. To see that passion yourself, here are 5 racing events you shouldn’t miss while in Italy:

The Palio di Siena

If you’re looking for a historic and exciting event, then the Palio di Siena won’t disappoint. Tracing its origins to the 17th century, the Palio is a race that features ten horses and their riders, hailing from the city’s 17 contrades or city districts. What distinguishes the Palio from a normal horse race is that the jockeys ride bareback—meaning they ride without saddles and stirrups. This means that riders can get thrown off their mounts as they make the turns along the dirt tracks, making for a memorable and dramatic race.

The Italian Grand Prix

As you may know, Formula One is the world’s premiere motor racing event in the world, and it has a strong presence in the Italian peninsula. However, Ferrari isn’t the only strong tie that Italy has with motorsports. Beyond the famed manufacturer and their loyal fans is another national racing institution: the Italian Grand Prix, which takes place in September this year at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.

Resembling a rounded triangle, the track is known for its three long straights and fast corners. This means drivers run at full throttle for most of a lap, becoming mere blurs when seen from trackside. With the track’s unique layout, the cars roar through most of the track, taking only short breaks at 3 bends or chicanes in between. The result? A race so exhilarating, you need to put earmuffs on to block out the sound.

The Rome Marathon

Compared to drivers controlling super-powered vehicles, marathons are a more primal exhibition of human athleticism and determination. One of the most famous ones is the Rome Marathon, which will occur this year in early April. The race begins in the shadow of the Colosseum and follows the River Tiber, in a route that showcases the city’s most famous sights.

However, if that’s too soon for you to book a trip, two equally famous marathons in equally significant Italian cities will also take place later this year. The Venice and Firenze Marathons will take place in October and November, respectively.

The Barcolana Regatta

Given its scenic location in the warm Mediterranean sea, Italy is home to many aquatic sporting events, the most famous of which is the Barcolana Regatta. Held in the gulf of Trieste, it’s one of the most well-attended sailboat races in Europe, with almost 2,000 boats in attendance in 2013.

The sheer number of participants in the Barcolana is enough for the Gulf of Trieste to be called one of the world’s sailing capitals. To some extent, it is true, as is one of few places in the world to see thousands of sailboats racing close together. There are also other side events that take place during the week-long affair, leaving many options for travellers.

The Palio della Rana

A truly unique race, the Palio della Rana have contestants each pushing a wheelbarrow, with a single frog as a passenger. It usually takes place during the first weekend after Easter, in the town of Fermignano. The race is actually part of a big feast, featuring plenty of food, costumes, and performances. However, the Palio itself is the main event. The main requirement is that a contestant runs for 170 meters towards a finish line with the frog inside the wheelbarrow. Should the frog jump off, then the contestant is out of the game. That makes the race an unusual yet charming event that’s hard to forget.

Italy has many events to help you quench your need for speed and love for fun. If you’re interested in experiencing these unique events or more, contact us now!

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By Priscila Siano (265 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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One Comment

  1. Geo
    Posted September 6, 2016 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

    This was a great article. I enjoyed the video so much 🙂

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