Macerata’s new bishop, handpicked by Pope Francis, observed recently that “all the tensions rising in the country are now visible in this city.”

In the university, founded in 1290, left-wing students warned that a group of hard-right students in the humanities department were espousing the works of Julius Evola, the spiritual and intellectual godfather of Italian Fascists and Italy’s post-Fascist terrorists.

They said students were attempting to form chapters for hard-right groups such as CasaPound, which is doing better in municipal elections around the country, and Forza Nuova, which in October attempted to re-enact Mussolini’s 1922 March on Rome.