Following weekend demonstrations that saw violence in Rome and Naples, crowds ranging in size from several hundred to several thousand took to the streets again on Monday evening.
In Milan, police held at least 28 people on Monday after shops and trams were vandalised and bins were set on fire, with similar scenes reported in neighbouring Turin as well as Catania, Cremona, Treviso and other cities around Italy.
In Rome over the weekend, some 200 masked militants belonging to neo-fascist group Forza Nuova hurled projectiles at police and set rubbish bins alight in a series of street protests. Meanwhile, hundreds of demonstrators clashed with officers in Naples in a protest reportedly organised by football ultras in the region.
Italian police officers stand in front of a shattered Gucci store window during a protest of far-right activists against government coronavirus measures, in downtown Turin.AFP
The protests follow decisions this week by several regions to impose overnight curfews in a bid to slow rising Covid-19 infection numbers.
The scenes of unrest came after the government ordered restaurants and bars to shut from 6:00 pm, while theatres, cinemas and gyms were ordered closed for a month — much to the annoyance of business owners, opposition politicians and even some scientists.
However, police chiefs said business owners were not responsible for the vandalism and clashes with police.
The violence in Italy, which imposed one of the toughest lockdowns in the first wave of infections in March and April, may reverberate around Europe where governments are weighing the need for tougher measures against the fatigue and frustration felt by many.
“There's no question that the European region is an epicentre for disease right now,” WHO emergencies chief Michael Ryan said on Monday.