Accepted Paper:

Festive spaces of the city: the Palio of Siena  


Tobias Boos (Free University Bolzano-Bozen)

Paper short abstract:

During the festival “Palio” the way of dwelling in the city changes towards a festive mode. It will be shown how in this occasion festive spaces emerge which are characterized by a special configuration of (public) spaces of appearance and (private) spaces of retreat.

Paper long abstract:

Based on a case study on the Palio of Siena, the aim is to show how this urban festival induces a complex social and spatiotemporal order to the city of Siena. During the festival the Contrade, the neighborhoods of the inner city, encounter each other, different other communities and the city in a specific, festive and competitive, way. Out of this encountering festive spaces emerge in which public and private spaces are reconfigured.

The Palio, a horse race which takes place two times a year on Siena's central square, is an important facet of the dwelling in the city. The Contrade are the main protagonists of this race which is organized by the city's administration and visited by many tourists. During the race members of the seventeen Contrade gather on Siena's main square which becomes a space of appearance because in this occasion the gathered neighborhoods celebrate their collective identities in front of an audience. In other moments of the festival the members of each Contrada gather in their club houses or meet in the main street of their district to have dinner together. The districts are decorated with the Contrada-symbols such as their flag and colors and during "private" gatherings some streets and squares are closed for traffic and non-members. During the festival the inhabitants and visitors of Siena dwell in the city in a festive way. Thus, Siena becomes a festive space characterized by a special configuration of spaces of appearance and spaces of retreat.

Panel Urba07
Dwelling in the festive city