Two centuries after Napoleonic forces snuffed out the 1,000-year Venetian Republic, Venetians are once again aspiring to become an independent state.
Activists dream of carving out a new country in north-eastern Italy Photo: Alamy
By Nick Squires
Inspired by the nationalist aspirations of Scotland and Catalonia, pro-independence campaigners will hold a mass rally in the heart of the lagoon city on Saturday, calling for an urgent referendum to be held on the issue.
Indipendenza Veneta, a newly-founded pro-independence movement, says it expects several thousand people to turn up for the rally.
They will be ferried across the Grand Canal in gondolas to deliver a “declaration of independence” to the headquarters of the Veneto regional government.
It may sound fanciful, and it will be fiercely resisted by Rome, but activists want to carve out a new country in north-eastern Italy which would comprise Venice, the surrounding region of Veneto and parts of Lombardy, Trentino and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
The “Repubblica Veneta”, as it would be known, would encompass about five million people.
Recent surveys show widespread support for independence among Venetians, who speak a distinct dialect and feel geographically and culturally distant from Rome.