Italian cities rally against Russia's war on Ukraine

Peaceful protests and vigils held in Rome, Milan, Turin and Naples.

Rallies and prayer vigils for peace in Ukraine were held in cities across Italy on Thursday night, with Ukrainians joined by Italians in demanding an end to Russia's war on Ukraine.

In Rome the Colosseum was illuminated in the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine's flag, in an initiative organised by Italy's culture ministry, with a prayer vigil for peace held in the S. Maria in Trastevere church.

There was also a protest in front of the Russian embassy, organised by the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD), whose leader Enrico Letta said that "all of Italy" is with the Ukrainians "in this struggle that will not end until Ukraine is free from the Russian invader."

Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri, who attended the rally, said the images of Russia's war on Ukraine are "scenes that Europe no longer wants to see and for which our strongest condemnation is needed.”

Gualtieri said that a candlelit procession will take place from the Campidoglio, Rome's city hall, to the Colosseum at 18.00 on Friday evening.

In Milan about 1,000 people demonstrated in Piazza della Scala against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, holding a giant Ukrainian flag, reports newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Earlier a small protest was held outside the city's Russian consulate with demonstrators carrying placards that read "Stop Putin", "Putin terrorista" and "No war".

Ukrainian residents in Naples unfurled a 30m-long peace flag in the city centre and attended a prayer vigil at the Santuario della Beata Vergine del S. Rosario di Pompei cathedral, while last night landmarks in Turin, Genova and Florence were lit up in the colours of Ukraine's flag.

On Wednesday Italian premier Mario Draghi expressed "full and unconditional solidarity" with the Ukrainian people of behalf of Italy, calling on Russian president Vladimir Putin to "put an end to the bloodshed".

The Vatican's secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin, called for a "glimmer of conscience on the part of those who hold in their hands the fortunes of the world" to "spare the world from the folly and horrors of war".

There are 250,000 Ukrainians registered as resident in Italy, reports newspaper La Stampa, however it is estimated that more than 400,000 Ukrainians are living in Italy, including those who have obtained Italian citizenship or who do not have residency papers.

Cover photo Corriere della Sera