There is no better way to see the Palio di Siena - with a window seat view, talk from a racing legend, traditional contrada dinner, and three nights in one of the great Tuscan hotels

Dating back some 362 years, the Palio is not just a display of civic rivalry but one of the world's great sporting spectacles. Pitting Siena's 17 historical districts (contrada) against each other twice a year, the event sees bareback horse riders racing at break-neck speeds three times around the city's Piazzo del Campo - a dramatic and dare-devil feat.

The race itself may only last "as long as an anxious groom on his wedding night", as Katie Wood of the Sunday Times so delicately put it. But you will be in prime position to watch it all unfold with a much-cherished view from a luxury apartment overlooking the square. It's always a hair-raising spectacle, with riders tumbling into padded barriers around its sharp corners and becoming unseated on the banked track. Bribes are taken and deals are made, so don't expect a fair fight either - indeed, a rider doesn't even need to be on his horse to be declared the winner.

The event, of course, is much more than the race itself. It is months in the planning: from the fabulous pageant - the Corteo Storico - that precedes the race, to the torch-lit banquets held by each contrada on the flag-festooned squares of Siena.

You will be joined on the first night by a local Palio legend who will explain the history and significance of the event, and the passion and courage required to ride in it. And the night before the race, you will have the rare privilege of joining local Sienese at one of the contrada dinners.

You will stay in the luxurious surroundings of Castel Monastero, where you will enjoy wine tasting at Montechiaro, a gourmet dinner at La Cantina restaurant, and a complimentary spa treament.

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Tour Highlights

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Price includes

  • Return flights
  • Return transfers from Florence
  • Three nights at Castel Monastero in a Superior Room
  • Daily buffet breakfast
  • Dinner for two in La Cantina (Castel Monastero wine selection included)
  • Return transfers to Siena from Castel Monastero on the day of the Palio
  • A window space overlooking the Piazza del Campo for the race
  • Cocktails and refreshments during the afternoon
  • Light buffet dinner at the end of the event, with a selection of local specialities
  • One spa treatment per person
  • Access to the 'Acqua Benessere' indoor water area of the spa
  • Dinner the night before the Palio in one of the most famous local contradas
  • Talk from legendary Palio rider

  • Private wine tour at the Montechiaro Vineyard

  • Welcome gift

Availability

From
Sun, Sun, Jun 30, 2019
To
Wed, Wed, Jul 3, 2019
Duration
4 Days
Price per person
£2,695*
* Based on two sharing. Subject to availability. Single supplement may apply.
From
Wed, Wed, Aug 14, 2019
To
Sat, Sat, Aug 17, 2019
Duration
4 Days
Price per person
£2,695*
* Based on two sharing. Subject to availability. Single supplement may apply.
Call now to book 08081633521
Quote ref: TIMES-ON
Got any questions about this trip? Send us an enquiry

Itinerary

  1. Day
    1
    Travel to Siena
    Castel Monastero, Italy

    Fly to Florence from London City or Gatwick. A driver will greet you and take you by private taxi to Castel Monastero Resort.

    Check in and relax before enjoying dinner at the hotel and an exclusive talk from a local Palio legend who will set the scene and explain the history, thrills and spills of this iconic race.

    Meals - Dinner
  2. Day
    2
    Wine-tasting and contrada dinner
    Montechiaro, Italy

    After a leisurely breakfast, you will enjoy a private wine tour at the Montechiaro Vineyard. Situated in the heart of the Chianti region, the views of the rolling Tuscan Hills and Siena on the horizon are nothing short of mesmerising.

    Enjoy a stroll through the olive groves and gardens - complete with the original 18th-century water font, before tasting an array of Montechiaro's organic wines paired with local delicacies and lunch.

    Tonight, you will be one of the few visitors to experience a traditional contrada dinner in the heart of Siena. Escorted by the hotel's Palio expert, you will join some 25,000 locals to celebrate the eve of the Palio with a feast to end all feasts.

    Siena's streets are lit by lanterns, and huge tables are set up in the main squares. Simple, hearty dishes of pasta, meat and vegetables are served, washed down with plenty of red wine. Flags and colours of each contrada hang from the buiding, and as the anticipation rises so do the voices of the teams, emboldened by a bottle or two of Chianti Classico.

    "After the main rehearsals and trials, a great feast is laid on for the contrada participating in the Palio. Leaders, members, and guests attend this banquet in honour of the pageant protagonists. Local food and wine is served amongst the guests whilst songs are sung, and speeches and wishes are made for the victory of the contrada. After the banquet, each Contrada Captain and his Lieutenants go to visit the leaders of the allied contradas to make deals aimed at favouring a victory and obstructing the enemies. A unique, exciting and intimate evening, full of glorious Italian delicacies, stories, and traditions."
    Castel Monastero's Palio expert

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  3. Day
    3
    The Palio experience
    Siena, Italy

    Today is the day of the Palio. You will be taken to the luxury Siena apartment where the wonderful pageant, the Corteo Storico, comes to a climax before the race itself gets underway.

    Window views of the race are the most prized in the city, as you get the best sight of the passion and courage on display as the ten bareback riders race around the circuit in front of a baying crowd. You will enjoy cocktails and refreshments throughout the afternoon, and a light buffet dinner will be served before your transfer back to the hotel.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  4. Day
    4
    Final morning in Siena
    Siena, Italy

    You will have the morning at leisure to relax at the hotel or explore Siena, before being collected around lunchtime to head back to Florence for your afternoon flight to London.

    Or, if you wish to extend your stay in Tuscany simply speak to one of the Racing Breaks operators.

    Meals - Breakfast

Castel Monastero Resort & Spa

Overview8/10

Review by Kiki Deere, travel expert


Ideal for those seeking escape and a little pampering, this sophisticated resort in the heart of the Tuscan countryside features an elegant blend of history and contemporary design. Set in a medieval walled hamlet, it has traditional Tuscan features (terracotta floors, wooden ceiling beams) complemented by plush modern furnishings (leather sofas, contemporary prints). The atmosphere is peaceful and intimate, with accommodation spread out across twelve contrade, or wards.

Featuring three outdoor swimming pools, an open-air gym, tennis court, and a world-class Spa, facilities are outstanding. Both hotel restaurants serve contemporary takes on traditional Tuscan cuisine, with menus overseen by Gordon Ramsey. Expect gourmet cuisine in formal surrounds at Contrada, and a more laidback setting at La Cantina.

Location8/10

It's set in the Tuscan countryside surrounded by Chianti vineyards, cypress trees and chestnuts forests. It's quiet and peaceful, with lovely views of the piazza, gardens and medieval village. It's conveniently located to explore Siena, a 30-minute drive away (don't miss the famous Palio horse-back race that takes place biannually in the city's Piazza del Campo), while the wonderfully preserved medieval village of San Gimignano is a one-hour drive west.


By plane: Florence airport is 100km away, while Pisa airport is 170km away.
By car: There's plenty of parking at the hotel.

View in Google Maps

Look & Feel8/10

It's set in a restored monastery and 11th century walled hamlet. The feel is rustic chic with a splash of contemporary: think wooden ceiling beams, terracotta floors and distressed leather sofas. Despite its relatively large size (the resort has 74 rooms and suites) it manages to retain a quiet intimate feel. The rural country houses that form the old hamlet are set around a series of courtyards and little piazzas, while the original monastery church is consecrated and still used for Sunday mass (it's popular for weddings), lending the place a quintessential medieval Chianti atmosphere.

Service7/10

Service is welcoming and friendly. Staff are happy to provide tips and suggestions on local sights. Restaurant staff were knowledgeable about the menu, and reception staff were amicable and professional.
The facilities are superb. There are three outdoor swimming pools, fitness centre, tennis court and an excellent spa. It offers a water wellness zone with Finnish sauna, steam room, Kneipp therapy, multisensory showers and salt pool. There are wider range of programmes and treatments on offer as well as yoga and pilates lessons. Cooking classes, balloon rides and Ferrari, Vespa and bike hire are also possible.

  • Wi-Fi
  • Sundeck
  • Swimming pool
  • Spa and sauna
  • Tennis courts
  • Gym
  • Room service
  • Laundry
  • Access for guests with disabilities
  • Fitness centre

Bedrooms8/10

Spread across the hotel's twelve contrade, or wards, accommodation is in rustic country houses with views of the piazza and surrounding vineyards. With their medieval architecture, the country houses retain authentic character. Interiors blend rustic and contemporary elements. They're decorated with traditional Tuscan materials, including old woods and terracotta, and are furnished with modern pieces such as chocolate-brown leather sofas; in some rooms prints of regional sights embellish the walls. Those seeking more privacy can opt for Villa Lavanda, a 17th century country house surrounded by a large leafy garden and Chianti vineyard.
Bathrooms are contemporary and spacious, with polished or sandblasted stone and powerful rain showers.

Food & Drink8/10

Menus at the hotel's two restaurants are overseen by Gordon Ramsey. With tables spilling out onto the hotel's sunny piazza, Contrada Restaurant serves gourmet Tuscan dishes with a modern twist in a smart setting. The more informal La Cantina is located in the hotel's ancient wine cellars; with its bare brick walls and vaulted ceilings, it has a cosy welcoming feel. The menu changes every couple of months or so, bringing out the best of locally sourced seasonal produce.

In the summer months aperitivo can be enjoyed on the romantic piazza, while in winter drinks are served in the bar. The buffet breakfast is a relatively simple affair, consisting of cold cuts, cheeses, fruits, cereal and pastries.

Value for money8/10

This is a five-star resort with excellent facilities - and the prices reflect that. That said, the room price does not usually include access to the Spa, which is an extra €40. A bit of a cheeky addition some would say, and a fee that many guests would no doubt like to see included in the room rate.

Please note that for the above package spa access is included as well as a free treatment.

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Brought to you by

Racing Breaks
This tour is operated solely by Racing Breaks
Europe’s largest racing travel business, offering ticket-inclusive and hospitality packages to all major UK and Ireland racecourses and selected international events – guaranteeing you the best price and service for your race day or break.

To view Racing Breaks’ supplier’s terms and conditions click here.

Availability

From
Sun, Sun, Jun 30, 2019
To
Wed, Wed, Jul 3, 2019
Duration
4 Days
Price per person
£2,695*
* Based on two sharing. Subject to availability. Single supplement may apply.
From
Wed, Wed, Aug 14, 2019
To
Sat, Sat, Aug 17, 2019
Duration
4 Days
Price per person
£2,695*
* Based on two sharing. Subject to availability. Single supplement may apply.
Call now to book 08081633521
Quote ref: TIMES-ON