In the days leading up to the introduction of a mandatory health pass for Italian workers on Friday, anti-vaccine activists and opponents to the measure plotted on chat groups about major demonstrations and “war.”
But as of late Friday afternoon, the opponents to the Green Pass, as the health pass is known, had struggled to raise an army.
A week after more than 10,000 vaccine skeptics and other Green Pass opponents staged a Rome demonstration that was infiltrated and turned violent by hard-right extremists, opponents to the Green Pass convened only sparsely attended and scattered protests around the country’s major cities. The strikes in its ports also seemed underwhelming.
Rome’s Circus Maximus, the ancient chariot-racing track often used for major rallies, dwarfed the couple of hundred protesters who waved banners reading “Liberty” and “The Green Pass Is Just the Beginning” on one end of the field. Hardly any of those present wore masks.
“This measure is by a fascist government,” said Stefano Fuccelli, 58, who has resisted getting vaccinated because he said he “did not want to be a lab rat.” He equated paying for coronavirus tests in order to go to work to extortion by the state.
Others talked about what they said were better alternatives to the vaccines, like cortisone treatments, and spread false assertions including that inoculations in Turkey had led to the birth of babies with tails and extra limbs.
In Florence, reporters and law enforcement officers outnumbered protesters, some of whom banged bongo drums and came up with creative solutions to get around the Green Pass.
David De Mommio, a 41-year-old furrier from nearby Prato, said that instead of getting vaccinated he would take a swab test every two days to go to work.
“I won’t work on Fridays, to take fewer tests,” he said, adding: “Earning less — is it fair? he said. He didn’t think it was. “I find it enraging that we have to go through this. It’s a matter of principle.”
Stefania Vangi, a 51-year-old who sanitizes homes for disabled people near Florence, agreed. “I simply don’t want to get vaccinated and I won’t,” she said. “I should still be allowed to work. It’s a fundamental right.”
In Milan, students and anti-Green Pass protesters marched peacefully in separate demonstrations on Friday morning before gathering for a sit-in near a 19th-century arch. Several waved Italian flags.
Hundreds gathered in Turin’s central Piazza Castello in a protest promoted by a committee called “Front of Dissent.”
And in Udine, about 1,600 demonstrators shouted, “No Green Pass!” in front of a fire station and marched through the streets, carrying posters that read, “Vaccinated and unvaccinated together for freedom.”