The protestors called on the government to dissolve the neo-fascist groups involved in last weekend's violent protests against the Covid-19 health pass.
Tens of thousands of Italians have called for a ban on the extreme right as they rallied in Rome after protests over a tough coronavirus pass regime last weekend degenerated into riots blamed on neo-fascists.
Carrying placards reading "Fascism: Never Again", the protesters in Piazza San Giovanni — a square historically associated with the left — called for a ban on openly neofascist group Forza Nuova (FN).
FN leaders were among those arrested after the Rome headquarters of the CGIL trade union — Italy's oldest —was stormed on October 9 during clashes outside parliament and in the historic centre.
The head of the CGIL union confederation, Maurizio Landini, led Saturday's protest with other labor leaders under the slogan: “Never again fascism.”
The demonstration was attended by some 100,000 people, said organisers, with 800 coaches and 10 trains laid on to bring people to the capital for the event.
Assault on union headquarters
Last weekend's riots followed a peaceful protest against the extension to all workplaces of Italy's "Green Pass", which shows proof of vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test or recent recovery from the virus.
Some groups broke through police lines to reach the prime minister's office, while others smashed their way into the headquarters of CGIL.
Police arrested 12 people, including two Forza Nuova leaders who remain in custody after a decision by a judge.
The violence has focused attention on the country's fascist legacy.
Vladimir Luxuria, a former Italian lawmaker participating at the demonstration said: "I know that is now the moment that we have to stop them, because what they did last week is very, very serious."
"Neofascist groups have to be shut down, right now. But that has to be just the start: we need an anti fascist education in schools," university student Margherita Sardi said.
Thousands of people demonstrate in Rome against fascism and racism. Italy stepped up security for mass demonstrations by far-right and anti-fascist groups across the country on Saturday as tensions rise ahead of next week's general election pic.twitter.com/Coovo72vYy— AFP News Agency (@AFP) February 25, 2018
78th anniversary of Nazi raid
The protest coincided with the 78th anniversary of the Nazi raid on the Jewish Ghetto in Rome.
Over 1,000 Jews, including 200 children, were rounded up at dawn on October 16, 1943, and deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Landini has compared the assault on the union headquarters to 1921 attacks by the newly founded Fascist party against union organisers.
Fascist leader Benito Mussolini came to power the next year and later brought Italy into World War II as an ally of Nazi Germany.
The centre-left Democratic Party, which has lead the calls to for FN to be banned, said its petition calling on parliament to do so had gathered 100,000 signatures.