The U.S. doesn't have the market cornered on political rallies, but we got an up-close look at how it's done in Italy. On the way back from our tour of the sites in Rome, our bus drove through Republic Square. I noticed a large law enforcement contingent lined up on one side, and many people milling around carrying red flags with the old Soviet hammer and sickle insignia. Seems there was about to be a demonstration by the Communist party. Forgive me for not knowing the exact wording of the party's name - a web search showed there are various Communist factions with different variations on "Communist" and "party" and "Italy." Our hotel was only a few blocks from the square. Inside our room a few minutes later, we could hear music and chanting. The rally had taken to the streets. In fact, for the next three-plus hours, it blocked the streets as the group marched. The thought of a large Communist rally can be an unsettling thought for many Americans, but at the sight of families marching together and the sounds of Aretha Franklin singing "Freedom," most of us ventured out and continued with our tourist activities. Our Italian guide told us later that such demonstrations are commonplace in Rome. She also said the Communist party in Italy isn't really what most Americans might imagine when talking about Communists - the iron-fisted Soviet regimes, suppression of the people, etc. The really was apparantly to draw attention to low workers' wages. The party itself has a range of views - some more extreme than others. Still, it was an interesting sight and we snapped a few pictures to share with you.
From our hotel balcony, you could see the marchers clogging the street.