Voting will begin on Sunday in a referendum on whether Venice and its surrounding region should secede from the rest of Italy, in a bid to restore its 1,000-year history as a sovereign republic.
"La Serenissima" – or the Most Serene Republic of Venice – was an independent trading power for a millennium before the last doge, or leader, was deposed by Napoleon in 1797.
The republic encompassed not just Venice but what is now the surrounding region of Veneto and it is there that the vote will take place from Sunday until Friday.
Campaigners have been inspired by the example of Scotland, which will hold its referendum on independence from the rest of the UK in September, and Catalonia, where around half the population say they want to break away from Spain.
Activists say that the latest polling shows that 65 per cent of voters in the Veneto region, which includes historic cities such as Treviso, Vicenza and Verona, are in favour of cutting ties with Rome.
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