Rome has banned the traditional horse-drawn carriages, popular with the tourists from operating on the city’s streets, ordering that the so-called botticelle can only circulate in public parks and historic villas. The move was aimed at protecting the animals after years of debate over their well-being, Mayor Virginia Raggi said on Wednesday.
Under the new rules approved by the city assembly on 1 December, the horses must follow established routes, with stops scheduled every 45 minutes and for no more than seven hours a day. The animals will also not be allowed to circulate from midday until 17.30 in the hottest months of the year, July and August. In addition the city has offered the botticelle drivers the option to switch to a taxi license. The horse-drawn carriages are popular with tourists – currently in scarce supply – and drivers have been known to charge €100 per customer for a tour of the city’s landmarks.
“Carriages will no longer be able to circulate in the streets, in the traffic, but only inside the historic parks,” Raggi wrote on Facebook. The open-topped carriages, known as botticelle, are a lucrative business with some tour operators charging over 100 euros ($120) per person for a tour of the city monuments. The move, aimed at protecting the horses after years of debate over their well-being, was announced by the city in July 2019 with Raggi announcing at the time: “No more exhausted horses on the streets! Rome leader in safeguarding and protecting animals.” Animal welfare groups have long complained about the trade, saying horses suffer in the summer heat as they are forced to pull heavy loads over slippery cobble streets.