Residents of Siena are passionate about horse racing. They hold competitions twice a year—on July 2 to honor Madonna of Provenzano and on August 16 for the Virgin Mary's Assumption. Both events take place at the Piazza del Campo and attract thousands of visitors.
The city is divided into a number of "contrade" or areas, each with its colors and symbols. During the race representatives of different areas challenge each other and compete fiercely for the first prize. According to some sources, this tradition appeared in Siena as early as the 6th century.