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Museum of the Contrada Imperiale della Giraffa


Displaying the winning Palios, including the one painted by by Guttuso

The Museum of the Contrada Imperiale della Giraffa (Imperial Contrada of the Giraffe) in Siena is located in the underground area of the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria in Provenzano, built between 1594 and 1604. The Oratory – dedicated to the Visitation of Maria – belongs to the Intercession Society and came into the district’s possession in 1824. The museum tour is made up of the Oratory and the Hall of Victories. 

The museum was built over time to conserve the winning Palios – including the triptych (of the Kingdom, the Empire and the Republic) which by virtue is called Royal, Imperial and Republican – and other relics and documents relating to the history of the district. There are some artistically interesting ‘Drappellini del Palio,’ or Palio banners awarded to the winner, painted by major artists like Guttuso (1971), Vespignani (1983) and Tommasi Ferroni (1986).

The museum has a curious story to do with its Palio: the “stolen” drapellone and its preparatory sketch: in 1967 the piece of fabric was taken as a joke by some students who only returned it once the Palio had ended, meaning that the Giraffe had to make his lap of victory with nothing but the sketch of the drapellone in hand.