After weeks of small demonstrations across the country, Italian farmers brought their protest into Rome on Friday, driving a four-tractor convoy past the Colosseum.

The tractors -- one of them green, one white and one red, representing the colours of Italy's national flag -- were part of a group of more than 300 that have been parked on the northern outskirts of the capital for several days, awaiting permission to enter the city.

The farmers want a formal meeting with the government of far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to discuss their complaints, which range from tax cuts to a review of European Union environmental regulations that they say are damaging their livelihoods.

"EU policies are putting us in serious difficulty," Elia Fornai, a 26-year-old farmer from Tuscany, told AFP at the camp earlier this week.

"We have no taste for protesting. We want to go home as soon as possible -- but with new programmes for a better future for agriculture."

Farmers across Europe have staged protests in recent weeks over shrinking incomes, rising costs and what they say are increasingly onerous environmental rules approved by the 27-nation EU.

The Italian farmers are not a homogenous group, with no one clear leader.

But many complain about imports of food from outside the EU that are not subject to the same regulations, and want tax cuts, including on fuel.

Meloni has expressed sympathy with the farmers, saying the EU rules are "ideological", but said her government had already taken action to support the industry.

This includes attributing an extra three billion euros ($3.2 billion) -- to a total of eight billion -- from Italy's share of the EU's post-Covid recovery fund.

But the Meloni government's latest budget did not extend an income tax exemption for farmers that had been in force since 2017.

Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said on Thursday he was evaluating whether to extend it.