By tradition, every contrade participating in the Palio demonstrates its confidence by celebrating its inevitable win with a massive victory “rehearsal” dinner the night before the final Palio race. These banquets happen simultaneously, all over the city. In some of these feasts hundreds of chairs and tables are set in a piazza, in others the chairs and tables line several blocks of the city. It’s usually possible for outsiders to buy tickets to these dinners; expect speeches and proud renditions of the contrade fight song. Preparations start early, because it takes a lot of time to get ready to serve hundreds of dinner guests.
In streets and plazas all over Siena, tables and chairs are laid out in preparation for the contrada banquets on the night before the Palio.
With hundreds of tables and chairs lined up in a piazza for the Giraffa (Giraffe) contrada dinner, Giraffa supporters lay out endless rows of place settings.
I first came across the Giraffa (Giraffe) contrada getting ready for their dinner in the afternoon, and returned in the evening to see the dinner in full swing, the piazza jammed full of hungry contradaioli.
In another piazza, supporters of the Pantera (Panther) contrada hold their traditional pre-Palio banquet.