The military base at the centre of the storm is home to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The Pentagon wants to double its size to increase the number of personnel from 2,750 to 4,500. At present, the US’ regional rapid reaction force is divided among the base at Vicenza, about 400 km north of Rome, and others at Bamburg and Schweinfurt in Germany.
A new barracks is to be built on the other side of the city from the existing one. That has raised worries about new roads to handle military traffic linking the two parts. Residents are also concerned about a loss of green space and strains on public services. There is even fear it could put Vicenza in danger of terrorist attack. Today’s protest is the culmination of a lengthy campaign of opposition.