Believe me, the best way to know, understand and love the Sienese people which during the Palio days seem crazy is to visit one CONTRADA (contact them direct trough their site)
You will be fascinated by the historical vicissitudes it took in finding a place for the ORATORY, the masterpieces it has; the HALL OF VICTORY where they take care of the Palii (banners) won; the MUSEUM, some with contemporary setting, where you can admire and assist at the evolution of the taste in the costumes for the Parade, the ‘spennacchiere’ (objects placed on the forehead of the horse so as to be recognizable even in case it arrives at the finish line of the Palio race without jockey), the helmets, flags, drums, the clothes of jockeys, the ‘masgalani’ (the prize which is awarded every year to the Contrada which was the best during both Parades preceding the Palio); the BOARDROOM where the meetings take place; the HALL OF MEMORIES with plaques in memory of the people dead during the war; the STABLE where the ‘barbaresco’ takes care of the horse during the Palio days.
It could happen to see exposed in the facade of the MEETING PLACE OF THE CONTRADA a flag with a blue, pink or black ribbon: it means that a girl or a boy was born or someone dead.
Visiting a Contrada with a local allow you to know what this tradition means for the Sienese: a place to belong, present in every moment of life, from birth to death.
The PALIO race is just the ultimate expression of this sense of belonging.