Hundreds of demonstrators protesting against a meeting between Silvio Berlusconi and a right-wing political leader have clashed briefly with police in the northern Italian city of Bologna.

Clashes ensued Sunday when demonstrators kicked riot police shields, and police responded by forcing them back with batons. Italian news reports said at least one agent was injured.

Hundreds gathered to protest the arrival of Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, whom they decry as a racist for his anti-migrant views. Saboteurs overnight set fire to railway cables that shut down the heavily traveled Bologna-Milan line for several hours. They left behind anti-racist graffiti.

Berlusconi, who has been largely sidelined from politics since his tax fraud conviction, was meeting Salvini to discuss an alliance to unseat the Democratic Party in the next election.