The Palio Contrade participants are all over 17:
Eagle, Caterpillar, Snail, Civetta, Drago, Giraffa, Istrice, Leocorno, Lupa, Nicchio, Goose, Onda, Pantera, Selva, Tartuca, Torre, Valdimontone.
There are many rivalries between Contrade towns, some of ancient origins which has lost track, dating back to the other 900, many of which have their origin in the problems of boundaries (established by Governor of Siena Violante Beatrice of Bavaria), or episodes that occurred in a Palio.
While Contrade of Bruco, Drago, Giraffa and Selva have no enemy contrada.
Each Contrada is divided into 2 groups fundamental: a group of executives led by the Captain, who is responsible for all decisions affecting the Palio. The second group is commanded by Prior, who takes care of all other contrada activities taking place during the year. The Captain and the Prior are elected every 2 or 3 years of Contrada themselves.
It 'important to note a crucial difference: it is NOT for a typhoid Contrada, but it belongs to it by right of birth. It is celebrated once a year the Contrada Baptism, which consecrates the Prior newborns or anyone who wants to join, usually those born within the borders of the Contrada of belonging. For those born outside the city walls is given membership of the Contrada of the parents.
Each of the 17 districts has its own church, its center and its museum, in addition to the banner with heraldic animal, from which almost all are called and which is reproduced on plaques displayed in various cities and modern fountains close to their church or home group contrada.
At one time there were differences between the various social quarters, now almost extinct, while still alive to its fidelity contrada, which belongs by birth and is a key element of social life Siena. After the baptism in the church, to the children if they give a second, in the fountain on the village. Subsequently, the village has a key role in the life of an individual: the children learn to twirl flags and playing drums for the Palio and Contrada for festivals, while adults are active in their community centers and participate in weddings and funeral. The lands also provide assistance to members in difficulty and it is said that respect for this institution play an important role in social cohesion of the city. Certainly, for a city of its size, Siena has a rather low level of crime and distribution of drugs. In fact, the only violence that is tolerated is manifested during the Palio, when Contrada sometimes trigger fights with their ancient rivals.
To better understand how they work the streets, is a good idea to visit a museum, each of which displays trophies won in the Palio. All are open during the preparation for the Palio and, at other times by appointment: The tourist office can book by phone. Each quarter has its annual celebration with parades and banquets. And practically all year round you can see drummers and flag wavers