To travel to Siena in July or August is to be transported to another realm. The city swells with tourists and city dwellers who have returned for centuries to be a part of the elusive, intangible, yet strongly felt civic identity engendered by a horse race called the Palio. This is a Tuscan city of saints, art, fascinating architecture, and citizens who will happily admit to suffering from an acute sense of campanilismo, or excessive pride in their city. A city that was the “daughter of the road,” the Via Francigena, Siena’s power during its thirteenth- and fourteenth-century “Golden Age” matched, and in some ways exceeded, that of Florence. After more than 300 years of rivalry, Florence eventually prevailed, taking over the city in 1555. Yet, the Sienese spirit was not diminished; some might say it only grew stronger, for, after the fall of the Republic, Siena’s traditions and civic pride intensified. Certainly, the art and architecture produced were worthy of admiration, but it was the shared sense of participation in this ever-evolving but essentially unchanging tradition of the Palio and the seventeen city-states known as the contrade that set Siena apart, becoming living symbols of Siena’s past and future. 1