I was reminded today of something that happened back in October. For the last two years, on our Tuscany tour, we’ve used a beautiful villa as an overspill hotel when we stay at the Casa Aiola in Vagliagli. As well as the Villa di Astreo, it’s also known as the Casa di Rompicollo.

I’ve never known what it meant, and never wondered because I wasn’t interested. It’s a beautiful villa in a beautiful village, with very friendly owners, and it’s within walking distance of Frederica and Henrico’s castle at the bottom of the hill. That’s every box ticked as far as I was interested.

But in October I actually met Rompicollo.  The only woman in history ever to have ridden in the Palio.

The Palio is a historic horse race that takes place twice a year in Siena, on July 2nd and on August 16th. I won’t bore you with details about the Palio, you can find them anywhere – here for example: More information about the palio .

But in almost 400 years only one woman has ever ridden in the Palio, her name is Rosanna, and a bunch of us had the pleasure of meeting her. She’s better known in Siena as Rompicollo, which means ‘Daredevil’, or more literally ‘break neck’.

Anybody who saw the film The Love Specialist (La Ragazza del palio) made in 1958 will have seen Rosanna. In this romantic comedy British actress Diana Dors plays a Texan who wins a trip to Italy in a quiz show and ends up winning the palio. Naturally the riding scenes featured Rosanna as Diana Dors’ double.

In her prime she was just stunning. Have a look at this photo of her on her horse.

She didn’t win – I think she may have fallen on the 2nd lap of 3, but something might have got lost in translation. But we were all in awe of meeting this amazing woman.

Here she is, Rosanna, Rompicollo. We were all overwhelmed to be able to meet her.

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