If you have visited the beautiful city of Rome, you may have seen the pretty horse-drawn carriages waiting to pick up tourists from the legendary Spanish Steps. Visitors have been enjoying the carriages known as botticelle for centuries but concerns over the welfare of the horses has now seen the carriages banned from the streets of the Italian capital on weekdays.
Horses collapsing in hot weather
The welfare of the horses had been a bone of connection for some time with horses collapsing in sweltering summer temperatures. In addition, the somewhat aggressive driving in the city has seen several horses killed in collisions. Activists have clashed regularly with carriage drivers and have now succeeded in obtaining a partial ban. They have been campaigning rigorously for a total ban and further clashes with the drivers are inevitable.
Weekday ban on botticelle
In September 2018, the authorities in Rome decided that no further licences for the horse-drawn carriages would be granted but have now voted to remove the carriages from the streets on weekdays. There are 44 botticelle in Rome. They will be confined to public parks and replaced on the streets by electrically powered vintage cars, except at the weekends.
The city’s mayor, Virginia Raggi, announced the news on her Facebook page. She had promised to ban the botticelle completely in her election campaign three years ago, but has been forced to compromise in order to get the legislation passed.
Horse-drawn carriages become a scandal
Just last year, a horse had to be put down after being hit by a truck on a street near the iconic Colosseum. Italy’s deputy tourism minister, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, felt that the plight of horses drawing the carriages had become a scandal and something had to be done to protect the animals.
Taxi licences for carriage drivers
Unsurprisingly, the carriage drivers are not all happy about the ban. They have been offered taxi licences to enable them to begin new careers. It would appear that they are not interested in driving the electric cars.
The precise details of how the ban will be operated are set to be decided by the city authorities shortly. The carriages may soon be just a memory, but it is fabulous to hear that the welfare of the horses is being prioritised over the needs of people and any nostalgic feelings for the botticelle.
Horse-drawn carriages around the world
Many cities around the world feature horse-drawn carriages but few animals face such difficult challenges as those working in Rome. The city sees extreme temperatures in Summer and the traffic is truly horrendous. Car drivers tend to be impatient and rarely bother to stop at pedestrian crossings. They are given to sudden and unpredictable manoeuvres including turning left from right-hand lanes and even driving on grass verges.
The environment on the streets of Rome simply isn’t suitable for horses and we are confident that the weekday ban will be followed sometime in the near future by a complete ban on the carriages.
Have you taken a carriage ride in Rome and do you think the ban is justified?