A website designed to expound upon the culture of Siena, Italy by defining the meaning of the word “contrada” through our unique relationship to
La Nobil Contrada del Bruco—the Noble District of the Caterpillar.
Created as part of an honors thesis for Barrett, the Honors College and
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
by Tea Francesca Price
PHOENIX | SIENA
The city of Siena is picturesque as an almost perfectly preserved medieval fortress in the heart of Tuscany. But the true beauty stems from its unique, family-oriented culture.
Siena is divided into 17 contrade or “districts” represented by animals or symbols; in July and August of every year, during the world-renowned, bareback, medieval horserace, il Palio, the passion and comradery i contradaioli (district members) demonstrate seems contagious to the tourists flocking the streets. Drums beating, flags swirling, the bellowing voices of men, women and children—unified by the scarves of their contrada borne proudly around their necks—filling the air…
Yet, what the outside world sees during the time of il Palio is just a fraction of what burns in the hearts of contradaioli every day of the year. To fully understand this requires recognizing the significance of the word “contrada,” which for many contradaioli, ultimately means “family”.
I experienced the breathtaking first impression of the city as a foreigner, but have since been blessed to have found and be continuously welcomed as family within La Nobil Contrada del Bruco—the Noble District of the Caterpillar.
To have this family, I am indebted entirely to my mother, Diana Marie Iorio, who in 2008, became a baptized member of the Bruco—a rare and practically unheard of honor in Siena, as to be a contrdaiolo is typically only a birthright.
Her story, and subsequently my own, is told in this video.
BECOMING BRUCO: A MOTHER/DAUGHTER INTERVIEW
Initially, my perspective as a daughter, a “niece”, a friend, etc., made the suggestion of this project seem too personal. As a budding journalist, however, I realized our narrative was just an angle to a more important, underappreciated story: one of culture, the importance of family and friendships, and the ways in which those legitimate relationships in conjunction with traditions dating back hundreds of years, influence an entire city’s existence.
Therefore, outside of this page, “Becoming Bruco” is a site solely focused on Siena, its history, and what it means to become a person “truly living the contrada lifestyle” through the direct examples of members of La Nobil Contrada del Bruco.