From the Grand Canal to Juliet's balcony, a 'Yes' from Veneto to cutting ties with Rome can blaze a trial for Scotland

 

Rome

There has been much water under the Bridge of Sighs since Napoleon Bonaparte marched into Venice ending 1,100 years of independence in the city state.

But tomorrow, more than two centuries after Napoleon barged in, and almost 150 years after Venice finally became part of Italy, the five million citizens of the lagoon and Veneto region could again cut ties with Rome.

Egged on by independence campaigners in Scotland and Catalonia, a majority "Yes" vote could set in train events that see the evocative city once again become the capital of an independent sovereign state.

The referendum, which closes next Saturday, is not recognised by Rome or the regional authorities, but its proponents say a positive outcome could create a head of steam that would make independence inevitable.

Northern League politicians promoting the creation of a new Republic of Veneto say they have history on their side. The Venetian Republic was, they note, one of the most important and enduring states in European history, lasting from the late seventh century until 1797, when Bonaparte deposed the last doge.

The independent trading power fostered artists including Giorgione, Bellini and Titian.

Activists say 65 per cent of voters in the Veneto, including in historic Treviso, Vicenza and Verona, are in favour of independence. They cite dissatisfaction among the richer northern cities with Rome's perceived inefficiency and with tax revenue being diverted to the poorer south.

The populist Northern League – together with much of the region's electorate – sees the capital and the rest of the country as a drain on the local economy. The party's leader in Veneto, Federico Caner, cites official figures that suggest this wealthy and industrialised region pays €20bn more in taxes to Rome than it receives in investment and services.

"We have our own identity, history and culture," he said. "Before Italy was a nation, Venice was the world's first democratic republic that had endured for 1,000 years."

Not every one is in favour of independence. "It is anachronistic to think of a Europe made out of regions when we should strive for a Europe of stronger nations," said Pietro Piccinetti, president of the Committee for the "No" vote. "We want to change, but within a stronger Italy."

Voters will also be asked if an independent Venice should join the EU and Nato, and retain the euro. And therein lies one of the problems with the succession plan, says Fabrizio Marrella, a Veneto-born professor of international law at the Ca' Foscari University, perched on the banks of Venice's Grand Canal.

He thinks Italy's constitution would make secession for Veneto much more arduous than for Scotland or Catalonia. "If it were to become independent, Veneto would leave the EU and then have to re-apply for EU membership. This would spell disaster for Veneto's economy," he said.

The Italian establishment appears to be ignoring uppity Venetians' independent ambition. National newspapers and television channels have ignored the Veneto poll. However, even those who do not favour independence say that the Venetian referendum is an important political message that Rome must heed, sooner or later.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam