Rome prepares for day of protests

Extra police and traffic diversions in place for demonstrations

Rome is braced for a day of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations on Saturday 28 February, when the leader of Italy's right-wing Lega Nord party, Matteo Salvini, holds a protest against Matteo Renzi's government.

Up to 50,000 people are predicted to show up for Salvini's rally at 15.00 in Piazza del Popolo, with many of the protestors expected to wear "Renzi go home" t-shirts.

At the same time a smaller "Never with Salvini" counter-demonstration organised by the left-wing Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà (SEL), along with anti-fascist and anti-racist associations, will march from Piazza Vittorio, possibly ending in Campo de' Fiori.

Separately, at 10.00 that morning there will be an unauthorised "Italians First" sit-in by right-wing groups including the neo-fascist CasaPound in the multi-ethnic Piazza Vittorio, while there is another right-wing protest scheduled for 18.00 in Piazza Cola di Rienzo.

To confuse matters further, both the left-wing SEL and the right-wing CasaPound accuse Salvini of hypocrisy over his anti-government stance, reminding people that Salvini's party was in power for years with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.

There are concerns that trouble could flare should the opposing protests cross paths, however the capital is taking no chances following the recent riot by Dutch football fans, and there will be 3,000 police on duty.

There will also be numerous detours to the city's public transport network, including the closure of the Piazza Vittorio station on the Metro A line. For public transport updates see Muoversi a Roma website.

Ph. L'Espresso

Andy Devane