Cruel tradition denounced by minister of tourism. Dozens of “palios” – horse and donkey races around town squares – have been being held in Italian towns and villages since the Middle Ages. They’re maintained as “cultural traditions” like bullfights, rodeos and dogfights.
But Italy’s minister of tourism created an uproar earlier this year when she said that the palio should be banned altogether. The animals are frequently injured as they’re forced to gallop around medieval, cobblestoned town squares. And the minister, Michela Brambilla, argued that this spectacle harms Italy’s image abroad.
One such race was canceled this year after Italy’s Anti-Vivisection League invoked recently passed national anti-cruelty laws.