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The people's principality of Filettino defies Rome

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The people's principality of Filettino defies Rome
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Amid the tranquillity of the hills above Rome, rebellion is in the air.

The fury of the villagers may not be immediately apparent in Filettino. In the afternoon heat, an elderly woman seems to be snoozing at her open window; an old man watches the world go by from a bench in the street.

But so great is the burning sense of injustice at government cuts that local people are threatening not a petition, not even a march – but full-scale independence, with their own monarch.

Village officials are even talking of cutting off water supplies to the capital, down in the valley.

“We are the lungs of Rome, we provide its water and all for free! We’re starving and the state doesn’t help us! So we’ll create a principality!” cried deputy mayor Fabrizio Giacomini.

Already Filettino – population 500 and something – has its own coat of arms, plans for a national anthem and has even printed its own currency.

So far the currency, which is called the fiorito, only has souvenir value, but an exchange rate has been set at two to the euro.

Meanwhile at least one official says he can cut the public debt by working for free.

The anger here comes despite a partial government climbdown over plans to merge small towns and villages into unified authorities.

Many small Italian towns are furious that austerity measures are hitting their relatively small budgets unfairly – and accuse the government of ignoring, controversial issues like the question of raising the country’s retirement age.