Italy: Florence to host major rally for peace in Ukraine

Kyiv and Florence have been twinned since 1967.

Florence will be to the forefront of Italy's events in support of Ukraine this weekend, with a major rally scheduled in the Tuscan capital on Saturday 12 March.

The demonstration in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and against the Russian invasion will be held in the city's central Piazza S. Croce at 15.00.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the crowds in Florence via video link.

The event has been called by Eurocities, the network of more than 200 large cities in Europe, and organised by Florence's centre-left mayor Dario Nardella, reports La Repubblica newspaper.

In addition to all of Italy's centrosinistra political parties, the rally will see the participation of the nation's three main trade unions - the CGIL, CISL and UIL - and a myriad of groups including the partisan association ANPI and the lay Catholic charity S. Egidio.

Enrico Letta, leader of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) will be there; alongside Italia Viva, led by Matteo Renzi; and Azione, led by Carlo Calenda, along with other left-wing parties including +Europa, Verdi and Leu.

Giuseppe Conte, leader of the populist Movimento 5 Stelle, will reportedly be taking part in a separate rally in Naples on the same day, according to Il Foglio newspaper.

Mayor Nardella says he hopes the Florence demonstration will be the largest of its kind since the conflict broke out in Ukraine more than two weeks ago.

"Florence condemns the war and expresses closeness and solidarity to the Ukrainian people and in particular to the cities of Ukraine that are victims of this war" - Nardella states on the Regione Toscana website.

The mayor extended the invitation to attend Saturday's rally to "all local and national political forces, to the world of work, trade unions and associations" in order to "send a strong message of peace and condemnation of war."