- The Palio is a bareback horse race run in July and August every year around Siena's central piazza.
- Siena is split into 17 contrade, which are essentially neighborhoods/family. Ten compete in each Palio for a chance at the ultimate bragging rights for the year. The seventeen contrade are the Eagle, the Snail, the Owl, the Dragon, the Giraffe, the Porcupine, the She-Wolf, the Seashell, the Goose, the Caterpillar, the Wave, the Panther, the Forest, the Tortoise, the Unicorn, the Tower, and the Ram.
- Elaborate parades and processions are an integral part of each Palio.
- A horse can win the race riderless.
- Siena is split geographically into three districts because it was built on three hills.
- The police officers' uniforms were designed by Giorgio Armani. (Would you expect anything less from Italy?)
- Saint Catherine is the patron saint of both Siena and the entire continent of Europe. Her head and thumb are in Siena; the rest of her is in Rome.
Premise of the book: Robert Rodi visits Siena, Italy during the Palio season in 2003, and falls in love with the city, the people, and the culture. He visits Siena seven times (hence the title) over the next few years in an effort to become one of them. His efforts are always amusing and sometimes frustrating, since the Sienese are a very close-knit people.
Random Facts Learned By Reading This Book:
General thoughts on the book: This was a really fun book. My only quibble is that I wish Rodi had gone into more of the history of Siena. Instead, he just focused on the Palio aspect of the culture, as well as his adventures there. He tells of those adventures in a very light-hearted, self-deprecating way that makes for a very enjoyable read.
My name is Julie, and I own a lot of books. As in, they are stacked on the floor because I've run out of room on the shelves. And those shelves? There are so many books on them that they smile -- not sag; smile. This blog will cover book reviews and all manner of other bookish things.
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