Piazza del Campo, or simply the Campo, is Siena’s main square. With its unique shell shape and architectural integrity, it’s considered one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares and has become the symbol of this Tuscan city.
It is also the location for the thrilling Palio di Siena, which takes place twice a year.
The space that would become the current square was originally a reclaimed land that allowed the outflow of rainwater. The core of the emerging city was higher up, in the area of Castelvecchio, and ‘Campo’ was a space for markets.
The history of the square is strongly intertwined with the construction of the Palazzo Comunale, which overlooks it, and was built to house the residence of the podestà (chief magistrate) and the offices of the magistrates.
Piazza del Campo is also famous because it hosts the Palio delle Contrade twice a year, on 2 July and 16 August. This unique horse race sees the 17 historic districts that make up Siena fiercely compete.
The race consists of three laps around the track that surrounds the square, paved with slabs of pietra serena
, which is sprinkled with a layer of tufa dust to allow the horses to run; that does not prevent them from incredible slips.