Siena’s Contradas – Part 2: della Selva


After visiting the Contrada della Lupa in the morning we decided to refuel before checking out the next Contrada with an open museum. Wandering along one of many little lanes we found this wonderful restaurant with seats lined along the road – perfect. Also perfect were the fresh Porcini mushrooms – WOW!

I had the mushrooms grilled – they literally melted in your mouth, words evade me when trying to describe how good it was. I also had the beef carpaccio – a dish i’ve ordered MANY times whilst in Italy. I took a photo mainly for my parents to show i’ve been filling up on red meat to stave off my iron deficiency 🙂 Doesn’t get much “Redder” and “iron filled” than that!

Stomachs full and minds keenly anticipatory, we made our way to the Contrada della SELVA!

Their motto is First in Field SELVALTA which symbolizes to them, POWER. Their colors are Green and orange with white. Their icons are the forrest (Selva means wood) and the silver rhinoceros.

Once we finally succeeded in finding the museum we took great delight in exploring it, relishing that like those of the 17 other contrada’s this one is rarely open for public viewing

La Selva has collected thirty-six official victories, the most recent is that of August 16, 2006 . In contrast to the Lupa, Selva has no enemies and 2 allies, the Snail (Chiocciola), and Tortoise (Tartuca) contradas.

Below are an assortment of the adornments that have been on Selva horses bridles for the Palio

Afterwards we visited the chapel, a former Oratory for Jesuit nuns built in the sixteenth-century and called the Church of San Sebastian. Before each Palio, if the contrada has been picked to compete, their horse it walked into this chapel. Yes. Horse. In. Chapel. and blessed! And another fun fact, the winning horse of the Palio is taken into Siena’s incredible Duomo to be blessed!

Throughout the chapel, lovely adjustments have been made here and there, like the candelabra’s below on the right, to make them truly “Selva-esk”

We then explored the surrounding Selva area, walking below countless arches

until we heard the unmistakable sound of a contrada “war-cry” and came to a cafe full of “Drago’s” getting happily sloshed and proudly singing their songs. But their songs were drowned out by the loud banging of a tamburo, a contrada drum. Ever curious, we couldn’t help but go see where it was coming from

The main drummer and two key flag bearers of the Oca (Goose) Contrada were busy practicing and we bore witness to it all!

With one hand firmly planted on their hip they swung around the flags with such grace that as they fluttered, it almost seemed like the geese were flying. Yes i WAS focusing on the flags and not the gleaming olive biceps of the drummer….

They also performed some crafty maneuvers that would have had me on the ground covered in scrapes and bruises

Eventually we tore ourselves away and ran into some of the Drago boys but that story must wait for the next post. So we continued wandering, beneath awnings of human sized heads each with their own unique faces and expressions! I honestly couldn’t fathom such a “decoration” existing on a building in Australia

During our travels we also passed an ecstatic bride and groom getting photos in the Campo and a street artist doing an incredible chalk drawing in the middle of the street. A perfectly safe thing to do as no cars are allowed within the old city walls with the exception of a few taxis, cleaners and cars with special permits

We were wandering as we had to kill a bit of time before the event that the Drago’s told us about was to begin… stay tuned for the final part of Siena’s Contradas – Part 3: Del Drago

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Siena’s Contradas – Part 2: della Selva

  1. margaretbiggs

    love that photo of you with black top against burnt orange wall. pleased to see the red meat! can you print me a copy of that gorgeous photo? love margoo xxx

    • Lynn

      Hi Margo,
      I am now back in Australia, and as that lovely photo is one of mine, I can print it up for you any time, Lynn

  2. sally

    What a wonderful day of exciting discoveries. Setting out with a mission and acheiving it must have been very satisfying. Coming across the flag twirling would have been icing on the cake. Was very gratified to see your lunch choice! LM

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