MILAN – More than 1,000 Italians have welcomed some 80 migrants to the neighborhood in Milan with a block party featuring a pasta lunch, a brass band and crafts in a gesture aimed at countering rising anti-migrant tensions.
Shouts of welcome went up as a small contingent of about 30 migrants came out of a recently repurposed army barracks for what was billed as the first welcome party of its kind in Italy.
The night before, however, the attention was less welcoming. About 200 people belonging to right-wing parties and extremists groups protested outside the barracks under banners reading "Italians first." Tensions over migrants have been rising amid persistent arrivals creating a crunch in the housing system in the months since Italy has stepped up its border controls under pressure from European neighbors.