Incidents were reported across the country, according to Ansa news agency, including the burning of a wreath left for Resistance fighter Carlo Ciocca in Milan and the painting of swastikas near a plaque to local partisans in Marsala, Sicily.
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In Rome, far-right groups held a counter rally to coincide with the Liberation Day celebrations in the rest of the city, at which they carried banners glorifying the “Social Republic” (Italy's Fascist puppet state during the Nazi occupation) and declaiming “Never again antifascism”.
Supporters of the neofascist group Azione Frontale left graffiti on the capital's ring road, while a café-bookshop associated with anti-fascist movements suffered a fire that is suspected to have been started by some kind of explosive.
In Scarlino, Tuscany, a plaque to the Resistance war hero Flavio Agresti was defaced with spray paint, and in central Bologna, a memorial to partisans who died fighting for the city was violently smashed on the eve of Liberation Day and covered with the Soviet hammer and sickle.
— Bologna Today (@bolognatoday) April 24, 2019
In the days leading up to Thursday's celebrations vandals had also tried to burn a new wooden statue of Giulia Lombardi, a young woman killed for passing messages for the Resistance in Vighignolo near Milan.
It's not the first time that Liberation Day has been accompanied by a wave of provocations by neofascists: Bologna's monument alone has had to be repaired several times after similar attacks.
The holiday has become increasingly politicized over the years, with some on the right calling it a Communist celebration, and partisans groups and those on the left accusing them of seeking to downplay Italy's Fascist past.
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This year Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the rightwing-populist League party, took flak for declining to participate in the official celebrations, preferring instead to attend an anti-mafia event in Sicily because, he said, organized crime was a more present danger than the return of “either fascism or communism”.
Fellow deputy PM Luigi Di Maio, leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) that governs in coalition with the League, responded with thinly veiled criticism of those who don't embrace the commemorations, saying that Italians had “an institutional and historical duty” to mark the day.
Di Maio and several other prominent members of the M5S spent Liberation Day, which this year marked 75 years since the victory over fascism, with Rome's Jewish community. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte laid a wreath at the site of the Ardeatine massacre perpetrated by Nazi troops outside Rome, while President Sergio Mattarella delivered a speech in Vittorio Veneto reminding Italians of their “moral and civil duty” to remember.
In the northern city of Sondrio, meanwhile, a local church will on Saturday say its annual mass for Benito Mussolini and those killed after the Nazis were defeated in Italy, a controversial rite that priests have carried out for years on the weekend following Liberation Day despite protests from anti-fascist movements.
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP