Italian minister calls for race ban
Published 06/08/2010 | 06:01
Italy's tourism minister has called for an end to the nation's popular Palio horse races, likening them to Spain's bullfights for exploiting animals.
Michela Brambilla's attack on the centuries-old tradition was immediately criticised by other politicians, including the mayor of Siena.
The graceful Tuscan town draws tens of thousands of visitors each summer with the races running at breakneck speed in the main square.
Horses have been injured and put down after slipping on the dirt-covered cobblestone track.
Mr Brambilla says Italy could take a lesson from Spain, where the Catalonia region last month banned bullfights and their blood-soaked pageantry.
Animal rights activists in Italy praised Mr Brambilla, but Palio is a big tourist draw.