A Journey Through Time and Art: The 91st Piazza di Siena Horse Show

Rome Hosts the Prestigious Piazza di Siena: A Blend of Sport, Art, and Environmental Commitment

Piazza di Siena

Unveiling the 91st Edition of Piazza di Siena: An Event Like No Other

Ninety-one editions of Piazza di Siena have seen the convergence of art, restoration, and a commitment to biodiversity, alongside the breathtaking sportsmanship of horses and athletes. Piazza di Siena, one of Rome’s premier international events, returns to the historic oval of Villa Borghese from May 22-26, with the prestigious Concorso Ippico Internazionale Ufficiale di Roma – Master d’Inzeo.

The event kicks off on Wednesday, May 22, with an opening day that sets the stage for four highly anticipated days of competition. As per tradition, the public can attend the event for free, enjoying a high-level sporting program set in the world-renowned Piazza and the recently upgraded Galoppatoio facility, thanks to the efforts of FISE and Sport e Salute.

An Event Beyond Sports: A Model of Symbiosis

The Piazza di Siena Horse Show is not merely a sporting event or the Wimbledon of equestrian sports; it is a unique and symbiotic model where the event and its host venue, Villa Borghese, benefit each other. Sport e Salute’s annual maintenance efforts, including greenery upkeep and targeted interventions on specific areas and masonry works, have created a virtuous cycle. Since 2018, FISE and Sport e Salute have executed initiatives that span art, culture, biodiversity, and social and environmental awareness, utilizing the powerful amplification of major sports events.

Expanding Horizons: Biodiversity and Inclusion

One notable initiative includes expanding the historic oval by adding 4,000 square meters of green turf, replacing the silica sand in 2018. This change symbolizes a commitment to bioarchitecture and inclusivity, further emphasized by the removal of the surrounding fence. This removal aims to send a strong message of social, cultural, psychological, and divisive barrier elimination, mirroring the equestrian sport’s essence of overcoming obstacles.

The 2024 edition of Piazza di Siena continues this tradition with conservation and enhancement efforts in the Valle dei Platani. Eleven trees from the 1600s, dubbed the Sentinels of Eternity, have undergone a lightening process to ensure proper light and vital functions, supported by a new fence, informative signage, and a specialized irrigation system.

A Museum Journey: Art and Sculpture

Piazza di Siena also serves as a museum shuttle, opening to major art exhibitions at the Villa Borghese museums and hosting annual restoration projects. For the first time, the Pietro Canonica Museum will feature the exhibition This is Aquilino, Son of the Wind (Questo è Aquilino figlio del vento. I ritratti dei cavalli Rospigliosi dalle collezioni capitoline) from May 22 to September 15, 2024. Curated by Sandro Santolini, the exhibition showcases portraits of the Rospigliosi horses from the Capitoline collections, alongside works by Johan Reder and Paolo Monaldi.

Additionally, the event will display The Relief of the Horseman (Il Rilievo del Cavaliere), a sculptural relief from the early 2nd century AD, at the Casino dell’Orologio. This piece, part of the 17th-century Borghese Collection, has been reassembled and cleaned for the occasion, thanks to the collaboration between Rome Capital – Capitoline Superintendency for Cultural Heritage, FISE, and Sport e Salute.

Light, Time, and Music

The unique light that illuminates Piazza di Siena creates an atmosphere reminiscent of the 1920s when the event first began. This year’s opening day will feature a classical music concert by the orchestra directed by Maestro Alvise Casellati, organized by Intesa Sanpaolo. Although private, the concert will be free for attendees, maintaining the Piazza di Siena model’s philosophy.

The highlight of the event will be the thrilling Carousels by the IV Regiment Carabinieri, the Montebello Lancers, and the San Raffaele Viterbo youth, adding to the emotional peak of the competition.

Five Years of the Green Project: A Legacy of Sustainability

Since 2018, the Green Project PDS has transformed Piazza di Siena into a model of zero-impact bioarchitecture, using sustainable materials and restoring the area to its original 1920s appearance. The sandy surface has been replaced with grass, and a year-round maintenance agreement with Rome Capital ensures the area’s upkeep.

Restoration efforts have revitalized the historic grandstands, now used for sporting and social activities. The Galoppatoio area, previously neglected, has been fully restored, providing a venue for equestrian competitions and polo matches.

The commitment to biodiversity includes the ‘ZeroDIE’ project, replacing gravel with grass around the oval, creating a ‘green’ design symbolizing zero deforestation, impact, and emissions.

The Competition: Ten Events and Over a Million Euros in Prize Money

The 91st edition of the CSIO di Roma Piazza di Siena – Master d’Inzeo offers a record prize money of 1,006,400 euros across ten categories over four days. The competition begins on Thursday, May 23, with various events at the Galoppatoio and Piazza di Siena, culminating in the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday, May 28, with a prize of 500,000 euros.

Piazza di Siena

Photos: Courtesy of CSIO Piazza di Siena