Why it’s useful to know the history of the 17 contrade of Siena? It’s easier said than done : each one holds a fragment of the most important traditions of the town and the Sienese have a very strong sense of belonging to their own Contrada, a pride that is hard to understand for those unfamiliar with the history of Siena.
We invite you to discover the Noble Contrada of the Goose (Contrada dell’Oca), which among other things, has the record of won Palios (65, to be precise, from 1644 to the present).
The first question to ask, however, is: what are the boundaries of Contrade and who sets them? It was the edict issued by Violante Beatrice of Bavaria in 1730 to determine the boundaries of the 17 Contrade of the historic center, which are therefore different from the neighborhoods of other Italian cities.
The Act of Violante of Bavaria reorganized the contrade with the criterion of the location of the buildings, so the Goose boundaries include part of Via Fontebranda and Via Santa Caterina (Saint Catherine in fact, was born in this area), as well as one of the suppressed Contrade, the Bear.
Why the Contrada dell’Oca is called Noble?
This title was conferred on the Contrada in 1846, because of the bravery of its soldiers shown during many battles fought by the former Sienese Republic, as Montemaggio (1145), Montaperti (1260) and during the War of Siena (1552-1555).
In addition, the Goose financed the construction of the aqueduct called “bottini”, now open to the public (for further information please check this website: www.ladianasiena.it).
The record of won Palios attracts the curiosity of those interested in the history of the most involving competition for the Sienese people, therefore we point out that the last Palios won (the most recently was on July 2nd 2013) have all been won by jockey from Sardinia Giovanni Atzeni, also known as Tittìa, a truly talented horse jockey.
Regarding the coat of arms of the Contrada, is a crowned goose wearing around its neck a blue ribbon marked with the cross of Savoy, while its colors are green and white, with red trim.
The Patron Saint of the Contrada of the Goose is, of course, Saint Catherine of Siena, which is celebrated on 29th April.
The historic rivalry between Goose and Tower Contrade
The theme of the rivalry between Contrade may seem like a thing of the past, yet we guarantee that these are still very present in Siena, such as the one between Oca and Torre inhabitants. The peculiarity of this hostility is that the 2 Contrade are not neighbors, but in the past they contend with the jockey “Gobbo Saragiolo” (Francesco Santini), who won the Palio three times with the Goose and five times with the Tower.
For further info about Oca and the origins of the other Contrade, we suggest you visiting the museums dedicated to each Contrada (here you can find our tips: What to see in Siena’s contrada museums) and keep an eye on the events organized by Oca, scheduled on the official website www.contradadelloca.it.
Credits foto di anteprima: stefanopaganini https://flic.kr/p/KBt1p