Students "Block everything" in Rome protest
Thousands of students blocked the centre of Rome today as part of nationwide protests against proposed budget cuts in the university system that are set to be put to a vote later in the day.
Up to 50,000 students formed spontaneous processions throughout the capital in a concerted attempt to "paralyse" the city, dubbed "Block Everything Day," organisers said.
Police in riot gear blocked all entrances to the Chamber of Deputies, where ministers prepared to vote on the reforms, and officers were forced to redirect traffic as the city centre was brought to a standstill in several areas.
Bewildered tourists looked on as traffic was rerouted through area around the Trevi Fountain, which is usually pedestrianised.
Thousands of students had gathered early in the morning at the Sapienza University, before marching towards Rome's historic centre under a banner saying: "What Future in this Rubble?"
Protesters disrupted traffic in other major Italian cities across the country, from Turin to Palermo, while students blocked the tracks at stations in Milan, Pisa and Venice.
In Naples, protesters took advantage of the garbage crisis to throw the debris and rubbish bags lining the streets at the doors of the regional government office.
Students and academics are outraged over cuts of around nine billion euros (12 billion dollars) and 130,000 jobs in the education system that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government has vowed to carry out by 2013.