Tourists and local residents in Italy's major cities were left stranded on Friday as taxi drivers held wildcat strikes to protest planned government reforms of the sector aimed at boosting the economy.
The strikes caused disruptions in Milan, Naples, Turin, Trieste and Rome, with little or no service by taxis during the day except for emergencies.
Demonstrators held a rally in front of parliament, and protests were held at Rome's main airport and train station. Milan's Linate airport was also hit.
Taxis that drove past the demo in central Rome were greeted by shouts of "Shame!" and one car was attacked with punches and kicks by angry drivers.
The government wants to increase competition in the sector and boost the number of taxi licences -- but unions are incensed, with drivers saying enough taxis already ply the streets and competitors are not welcome.
Taxi unions said they wanted to meet the government to make their point and have called a national strike for January 23 in a preventive move.
Italy's new technocratic government launched a round of consultations this week on long-delayed labour market reforms that have been slammed by unions as Prime Minister Mario Monti struggles to put the economy back in motion.
Monti, a former European competition commissioner, hopes the government next week will adopt a large package of liberalisations which will affect, among others, taxis, pharmacies, local public transport and the postal service.
Since replacing Silvio Berlusconi in November last year, Monti has said he wants to overhaul labour laws to give more opportunities to young people and women and increase flexibility in a notoriously static system.