I swore I wasn't going to write an entry while at work, but before I go back out into the heat and lose my powers of thought, I want to mention yesterday's Palio race in Siena, Italy. It's an insane horse race that takes place twice a year (July 2 and August 16) between ten of the seventeen contrade that make up the town of Siena. A contrada can be defined geographically as a part of town, but contrada loyalty is an essential part of being Sienese. As a former resident of Geneseo, New York, which seems to be Siena's unofficial sister city in the US, I've found that http://www.comune.siena.it/ has good information about Siena in general and the race in particular (Istrice won yesterday--that would be the red, white, blue & black porcupine contrada). For further reading find a copy of La Terra in Piazza (it's in English) by Dundes and Falassi...a trove of Palio information for the obsessive, including songs, glossary, schedule of events, and index of contrada rivalries.

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