FLORENCE, Italy -- Thousands of protesters are expected to descend on a U.S. military base near the Italian city of Pisa to protest against a possible U.S.-led war in Iraq.
The protestors plan to march through the city to the U.S. Camp Darby on Wednesday.
A much larger anti-war march is due to take place in nearby Florence on Thursday, when more than 100,000 demonstrators are expected to take to the streets.
Shops and businesses in the city have been boarding up windows fearing acts of vandalism, and police have stepped up patrols.
The Luis Vuitton store in central Florence was completely shrouded by scaffolding and protective covering.
Both events are part of the five-day European
Social Forum organized by anti-globalization groups.
The gathering has been criticized by both Rome and Washington amid fears of
potential violence from protesters.
However, an Italian colonel guarding the U.S. base, Salvatore Lacono, said he was not expecting trouble at Wednesday's demonstration.
"We're relaxed," he said. "The level of alert has not been upgraded and no Americans have left the base."
Established in 1952, Camp Darby served as a staging post for U.S. arms and personnel in the 1991 Gulf War.
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