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Game of the Palio

Simulation of the Palio's horse race. To get acces to the simulation go to the bottom of the page.

The Palio is a complex event organized by the Municipality of Siena. (to learn more: Siena's Palio Horse Race ). The horse race is the culminating event of the Palio. It is held twice a year in the "Piazza del Campo", Siena's central square. Each horse represents one of the 17 Contrade (districts) in which the city is divided. These districts are identified by a name, emblemes, colors, and a symbol, like the goose, wave, liocorn etc. The relative rarity of the event, in relation to the strong desire to relive it, probably generated the willing to repeat it as a game.

Race of the Barberi. The easiest way to repeat the race as a game, is the so-called the "Race of the Barberi". The “Barberi” are small balls (see the figure in the righ side), each colored as one of the 17 districts. Just set them down for a tilted surface and easily get a simulation of the Palio. Of course, more elaborate tracks with curves, etc., can be more exciting. Like all true games this also has a social value. Indeed, it is typically used in the festivals of the district as a sort of lottery, in which the excitement for the end result is experienced collectively. A computerized version of the Palio dei Barberi is on Internet. In another site a similar version, but with the balls processed in horses.
Board games. To represent the race in a more realistic way, have been invented several board games based on the mechanism of the Game of the goose. In these games, the horses are moving in a path similar to the real one, made up of consecutively numbered spaces. Each horse is moved according to throws of one or two dice (see the picture in the right side, taken from this internet site). Since the game takes place in a track similar to that of the Piazza del Campo, limited in width, only ten horses are allowed to participate, as in reality. Moreover, in these games the political dynamics, typical of the Palio, based on conflict and bargaining is included.
Simulation. Here (see at the bottom of the page) is accessible the simulation of the race, with the reproduction of the exact morphology of the track. This simulation is developed as a multi-agent systems and uses the NetLogo platform. The agents are the ten horses and riders representing the ten districts in the race. The complexity of race emerges from the interaction of strategies for selecting paths by jockeys, and from several random factors. Whenever a Palio completely different and unpredictable as in real life. So ... enjoy!
We thank the Consortium for the Protection of the Palio of Siena for authorazing the use of coats of arms, and colors of the Districts.


Requirements and access. The current version of NetLogo require that your web browser support Java 5 or higher. If you're on Windows (Vista, XP, or 2000), you need to download the Java browser plugin from http://www.java.com/en/download/windows_manual.jsp. If you're on Mac OS X, you need Mac OS X 10.4 or higher. If you're on Linux or another Unix, you will need version 5 (or higher) of the Sun Java Runtime Environment.
The simulation has been optimized for screens with different resolution. For comments and suggestions and to report bugs: semboloniunifi.it

To enter the simulation click on
one of the following buttons (3.7 Mb)
Low screen resolution (1024x768)
Medium screen resolution (1280x1024)
High screen resolution (1920 x 1080)




The coats of arms, and colors of the Districts (Contrade) were used with the approval of the Consortium for the Protection of the Palio of Siena. Any other use or reproduction is prohibited unless expressly authorized by the Consortium.