As it has for over 300 hundred years, July 2nd saw the running of a spirited horse race in the sea-shelled shape Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy. Known as Il Palio, the race occurs twice a summer. Thousands of people gather in the medieval square to watch 10 riders sprint through three laps, all hoping their representative jockey will secure a victory.
Siena is divided into 17 Contrade or neighborhoods, and each enters a horse and a rider in the race, although only 10 make it to the finals. The neighborhoods each have their own banners and mascots which date back to the middle ages.
The race has been pitting neighborhoods against each other for centuries, and the first Palio was run in 1656. The race rarely lasts longer than a few minutes, and the winner is determined by which horse -- not which rider -- crosses the finish line first.
Last year's winner Selva (Forest) crossed the line without its jockey, after the jockey had been thrown off mid-lap.
The competition and rivalries are intense, and the winner gets a whole year of bragging rights. This year, the Oca -- or goose neighborhood -- won.
Clad in red, green and white, Oca supporters rushed the track after the victory, congratulating the horse, whose name was Mississippi, and hoisting its jockey Giovanni Atzeni on their shoulders.