If you like danger mixed in with your sightseeing, then one way to experience an adrenaline rush while being a tourist is to be a spectator at the twice-yearly Il Palio in Siena, Italy.
Il Palio is one of the most famous horse races in the world and it takes place twice every summer in July and August. Ten riders and horses set off to race around the Piazzo del Campo square in Siena's old town. Each entrant represents one of the seventeen contrade - city wards - so this is really a race based on local competition and rivalry. Horses are taken into churches for a blessing with their rider before the race, though many of the horses often finish the race without their riders who get thrown along the way.
The streets of Siena are always packed for this event, and there's not much separation between the race track and the crowd, so if you do go, you have to really look out for your safety.
To visit Siena in time for Il Palio, you can book cheap flights to Florence, which is not far from Siena. Florence is a great city to visit too, as there is so much art, architecture and culture to appreciate there. Don't miss out on seeing the cathedral with its famous duomo, the Uffizi Gallery and the Boboli Gardens while you are there. If you love jewellery, take a look at the shops that line the famous bridge in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio.
Nearby there is also the beautiful hill town of San Gimignano which dates back to the middle ages. There are fourteen medieval towers still standing which give San Gimignano a dramatic, fairytale skyline.
And if you're in Siena outside of the actual race times, you can always visit the museum in the town centre that has an exhibition devoted to Il Palio and shows great film footage of past races.
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