max 19th August 2015 Italy is a miracle Piazza del Campo, Siena, as people gather in the square before the Palio During my shenanigans in the old country I hopped on my car, held hostage a partner in crime – the good old Ferruccio – grabbed my old tent and we drove without destination throughout Tuscany. We ended up in Siena for the Palio, a renowned horse race where ten jockeys ride bareback around the city’s piazza. Ten riders representing the different contrade (neighbourhoods) challenge each other on the tracks to determine which borough has more power and strength. But the Palio is not just a simple horse race as it defines the very essence of Siena, its history and culture: most people feel so attached to their neighbourhood that their babies are baptised not in churches under a cross but in stables with the flag of the city ward. horses race around the piazza during the Palio I then walked among poor houses that time turned into noble palaces and I thought to myself that there are moments when Italy seems a miracle and Italians just invincible. I stood in a silent piazza filled with 50.000 people where the only thing you could hear was your heartbeat and the galloping of the horses and I was welcomed in a neighbourhood where they treated me like family. Wine was abundant, laughter was sincere and old ladies didn’t deny a rich plate full of pasta to anyone. Why beauty and intelligence, stratified here throughout centuries, didn’t make Italy immune to weaknesses and misfortunes?