Dressed in black bomber jackets and black T-shirts, the fascists surged into a main piazza ringed by colonnaded palazzos and pavement cafes. Confronting them were dozens of riot police armed with batons and shields.
Scuffles broke out as the modern-day Italian Blackshirts, from a far-Right party called Forza Nuova (New Force), tried to push their way further into the town. But the police forced them back, shoving them with their shields as the demonstrators chanted slogans from the time of Mussolini and gave stiff-armed salutes.
The confrontation happened in Macerata, a quiet provincial town tucked away in the hills of the eastern Marche region, touted by property agents and travel supplements as the new Tuscany.
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