The earthen race track, made of a special mixture called tufa, is laid out around the edge of Piazza Il Campo before the trial races start, so it’s in place all week. The entire piazza is open to the public between races, including the track. The heavy foot traffic disturbs the track surface, so track crews must restore the surface before each race to give the horses a consistent, safe course.
Horseshoe prints in the tufa after a race.
For the Palio, the wooden railing and the tufa track mixture are installed around the perimeter of the piazza. After the race, they are removed to restore the normal stone pavement of the piazza. The only part remaining year-round is the stone post on the left.
Track maintenance workers reposition one of the large cushions that are in place at the challenging San Martino corner to protect horses and jockeys from the hard stone walls in case of an accident.
A maintenance worker keeps the track moist in the summer heat so that it’s at the proper consistency for the horses, and a man is about to install a corner marker.
The wooden bleachers are dressed up with white material for the final race.
Before the final race, a municipal worker lays tape across seats to keep people off of them until paying ticket holders are admitted.
Siena municipal police arrive on the track. There shouldn’t be any trouble unless some contradaioli get into a fight…which does happen.
A maintenance crew sweeps debris from the track before a race.
After the sweeping crew removes the major debris, a vehicle grooms the course.
After the final race, crews remove the tufa, the track fence, the mattress safety cushions at San Martino, and the bleachers, transforming Piazza Il Campo from a race track back to a classic Italian piazza.
Next: Horses and jockeys