Animal rights protesters have begun their campaign against the traditional annual Palio competition held in the northern town of Ferrara. The animalisti are protesting in particular against the competition events using horses racing in conditions which are stated as inadequate and cruel.
During the opening ceremony last weekend Palio organiser Vainer Merighi spoke out against protesters saying that the events were perfectly safe and did not pose any threat to the animals. The protest group plastered the city with posters earlier this week in order to make their views even better known to the public.
Although not as well known as a similar event held in Siena every July and August, the Ferrara Palio is considered to be the oldest in the world, dating back to 1259. Events are held throughout the month of May culminating inthe competitions between the towns contrade (districts) and the infamous horse race, which hit international headlines in 2006 when three horses were badly injured and had to be put down. The event is also strongly criticised within the town as being a waste of public money which would be better spent on creating jobs and helping the local economy.