There are about a dozen horse races, called 'pali' held in Italy throughout the year. Some are truly medieval - in all senses of the term.
These numerous palii using animals – mostly horses - held in Italy every year have always been defended in the name of an alleged respect of traditions.In reality, the amount of money moved by these events and the huge number of serious incidents demonstrate the existence of interests that don't take in any account the wellbeing on the animals involved. One of those races is Palio di Ronciglione. The 2011 race ended in the death of a horse, in absolutely horrific circumstances, and the fall of three others. Although the Ministry of Health had refused to authorize the carrying out of the race due to, among other things, the lack of coverage of the road surface with suitable material, the organizers felt the need to compete on wet roads - despite the lack of authorization, despite the fact that the rain had made the road even more dangerous - and in one incident, a mare named Tiffany, died crashing into one of the fences. The most popular race is the Palio di Siena (known locally simply as Il Palio) a horse race that is held twice each year, on July 2 and August 16, in Siena, Italy. Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards. The race itself, in which the jockeys ride bareback, circles the Piazza del Campo, on which a thick layer of dirt has been laid, three times and usually lasts no more than 90 seconds. It is not uncommon for a few of the jockeys to be thrown off their horses while making the treacherous turns in the piazza, and indeed, it is not unusual to see unmounted horses finishing the race without their jockeys.
Accidents are common - bribery and doping, too. We have compiled videos and pictures about these two 'palii' on our website, and at the bottom of that page you will find the link to a petition started by the 'Italian Horse Protection Association' that we kindly ask you to sign and share with your contacts.