18 Mar 2014

Polling starts on Venice independence

3:20 pm on 18 March 2014

Voting has begun in Venice and the surrounding region on whether to break away from Italy.

Recent opinion polls suggest that two-thirds of the four million electorate favour splitting from Rome but the vote will not be legally binding.

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Photo: AFP

The poll was organised by local activists and parties, who want a future state called Republic of Veneto.

This would be reminiscent of the sovereign Venetian republic that existed for more than 1000 years, the BBC reports.

A focal point for culture, architecture and trade, Venice lost its independence to Napoleon in 1797.

The vote received very little coverage in Italy's national media but the organisers said they expected as many as two million people to take part.

Online voting is due to continue until Friday.