Divided Italy celebrates 150 years of unity

Italy celebrated yesterday (17 March) the 150th anniversary of its unification. But the country has never been so divided, with separatist forces gaining ground in the north and south alike. Anniversary celebrations took place all over Italy. The government decided to call a national holiday to mark the special occasion. VENICE, ITALY - MARCH 16: A man hangs an Italian National Flags outside his window ahead of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification on March 16, 2011 in Venice, Italy. March 17th has been declared National Festivity and events to celebrate the 150th anniversary will run in several Italian cities until the end of the year. (Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images) (Marco Secchi)

Separatist movements are gaining ground and the government itself is dominated by a party (Lega Nord) which began its political life by explicitly calling for the secession of the wealthier north from the rest of the country.

Lega Nord's anti-national stance was blatantly confirmed during yesterday's celebrations. In addition to four ministers, just one of the right-wing party's 85 MPs was present at a solemn ceremony in the packed Italian Parliament in Rome.

A gallery of pictures is here