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For most Italians, it's high petroleum prices, not harsh austerity measures, that are troubling them most. Some residents are finding rather creative ways to confront this challenge.
Donkey taxi, a new transport alternative in Italy.
These two big-eared animals have become a way of saving on transportation costs for some Italians. Since March, the two donkeys have been helping the residents of Reggio Emilia carry their shopping bags home.
Elisa Marchi, Reggio Emilia citizen said, "I come to the square here every Saturday morning for shopping. The donkey taxi is a very good initiative by the Coldiretti. It doesn't pollute and helps people carry heavy bags home."
This initiative was launched by Coldiretti, a local agricultural organization, which says it wants to revive an old tradition.
Marino Lani, president of Coldiretti of Reggio Emilia said, "in the past, agriculture was short on resources, and transportation was carried out by donkeys, horses and bulls. Bringing the donkeys to urban squares means bringing them back into our tradition and our culture."
Donkeys, while certainly slower modern vehicles, have their advantages.
Donkey farmer Massimo Montanari said, "Donkeys consume little. They eat herbs which horses won't even touch. In addition, donkeys' emissions are a kind of rich and non-polluting fertilizer. In fact, it is a good fertilizer for plants."
Montanari says that the presence of donkeys in urban areas is new, but already, residents are fond of them