Traffic, Opposition Result in Rome Carriage Ban

Weekday tourists to Rome's historic center will no longer enjoy the sights at a horse's pace.

City authorities have withdrawn carriage licenses following opposition by animal rights activists, combined with several equine deaths in 2008 caused by heavy traffic. Concern over working conditions was another reason cited for the policy change, despite the city's planned use of "black box" pedometers to track carriage horses' working patterns.

Italy's Deputy Tourism Minister, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, told the UK's Times newspaper, "The time has come to abolish this anachronism."

Under the new provision, electrically-powered vintage motorcars will replace carriages from Monday to Friday. Horse carriages will be allowed to operate in the city center on weekends, but on weekdays will be limited to designated parks. Final policies will be decided on Wednesday.

American carriage drivers have faced similar resistance to carriage rides in city centers.

Tommy Doyle, president of Carriage Operators of North America (CONA), feels the ban is regrettable. "The horse and carriage has been a part of Rome longer than the Catholic Church," Doyle said. "CONA will continue to support good carriage operators on this continent and others."

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Lisa Kemp

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