TODAY

TODAY   |  March 21, 2014

Should Venice say ‘arrivederci’ to Italy?

The question faces residents of one of the world’s most romantic cities: Venetians are fighting for independence from what they see as the choking hands of the Italian government. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.

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>>> back now at 7:45 with a question facing residents of one of the world's most romantic cities this week, should venice cut ties with italy ? katy tur is there. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning, carson. imagine traveling to italy only to find that one of its most famous cities is no longer italian. well, that's what they're trying to do. they're trying to secede from italy . saying arrivederci to rome . float along the canal, get lost in the twists and turns of the winding cobblestone streets. be awed by the beauty of st. marc's square. it might feel like italy to you, but don't tell the locals. fr francesco is among the millions fighting for independence of what they say is the choking hands of the italian government .

>> in a certain way, venice people feel abandoned by rome .

>> abandoned and exploited. venice and the surrounding regions is the richest in the country and therein lies the problem. every year, venetta sends $100 billion in taxes to rome , $30 billion never comes back. now venetians want out voting to secede from italy .

>> it's time to separate from italy and not to think we're the italian titanic.

>> reporter: venice has a long history of independence as a flourishing maritime trading superpower for 11 centuries. it was only annexed into the kingdom of italy in 1866 . and they've resented it ever since.

>> on the political way, it's a very strong message.

>> i just came here to tour. and if that's what they want, i say more power to them.

>> reporter: nearly 4 million venetians are eligible to vote, mostly online. supporters are hoping a majority would say when in venice , do as the venetians, vote "si."

>> think about the family, the future.

>> now, the week long vote ends tonight and although the referendum is not politically binding, supporters say they hope it sends a very strong message the central government in rome they need to get their act together. carson?

>> all right, katy tur, thank you very much.

>> you know, it seems like when you're there, you're in a different world. not like you're in italy . you're in this -- almost like magical kingdom.

>> you know what i was thinking, i think i need to go there --

>> investigate this.

>> i think you need to do the whole show for this. this is a pressing issue.

>> it is. and the only thing we should do is get there immediately.