SPI Italy Study Abroad Students Take Part in Historic Event in Siena

(Austin, TX; January 23, 2014). SPI Study Abroad students who participate in SPI’s Siena, Italy summer program are certainly in for a treat. During their weeks of study, they get to enjoy Il Palio di Siena – arguably one of Italy’s most important and historic cultural events.

Il Palio di Siena (or Il Palio, as it’s been deemed by locals), is a bareback horse race that occurs twice a year in the heart of Siena. The first modern Palio is said to have originated in 1656, but different forms of the race have been taking place since as early as the 14th century. Today, the race is a 90-second horse race through Piazza del Campo, and is attended by thousands of Italians and tourists alike.

The Palio celebration involves months of intricate preparation, and the festivities usually take place over the course of four days – there are special masses to honor the jockeys, different cultural events and dinners, and a citywide costume parade.

SPI students actually get to take part in all Palio festivities – they do everything from dressing up for the costume parade, to screaming and shouting alongside Italians at the race itself.

SPI Study Abroad programs are focused on providing a true language and cultural immersion experience for their students. Since participation in Il Palio di Siena is an integral part of living in Siena, this event provides a unique experience for students to gain insight into Italian culture and way of life.

During their time in Siena, students attend language classes for college credit, participate in cultural excursions and activities, and live with local families, all in order to forge an authentic connection with Italian culture and language.

For more on the SPI Study Abroad program in Siena, and for 2014 program details, please visit:

About SPI Study Abroad

Since 1996, SPI Study Abroad has been offering quality language immersion and global leadership programs exclusively for high school students. Program locations are in France, China, Italy, Costa Rica and Spain.