When I visited Venice and Vittorio Veneto in Summer 2011, I learned about what I thought at the time was a small “resistance” movement in favor of independence. According to this report from the Telegraph, a vast majority of the population in the region is in favor of seceding from Italy, and they’re quite serious about it.
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.
A poll conducted by Corriere della Sera in September found that 80 per cent were in favour of independence.
A more recent poll by Il Gazzettino, a local newspaper, found a slightly lower but still overwhelming level of support – 70 per cent.
And why secede, one may ask? Simply put, the North of Italy is more prosperous than the South, and the North is tired of having its wealth redistributed by Rome. According to the report, small and medium-sized businesses pay nearly 70 billion Euros in taxes but receive only 50 billion in return. The balance of 20 billion is spent outside the region where it was not earned.
Oh and by the way: they’re not called “activists” when they represent 80 percent of the population. They should be called “the people.”
Below is a pic from my 2011 excursion in Venice. The scaffolding was covering a monument that was under renovation. The government-sponsored sign dons the Italian flag with the words, “Our History Together Over 150 Years.”
The secession movement saw this as an attempt to overwrite its regional Venetian history by promoting the Italian Union, so to speak. Thus the graffiti says, at the top right, “NO TO HISTORICAL FALSIFICATIONS”
And at the bottom next to yours truly: “VENETIAN REPUBLIC ALWAYS!”