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City seeks return of Salieri remains

MILAN (AP) — Residents of a provincial city in northern Italy are seeking to reclaim the remains of its best-known son, composer Antonio Salieri.

Salieri left his birthplace of Legnago, south of Verona, as a teen in 1766 to pursue his musical ambitions in Vienna, where he mostly remained until his death in 1825. He was one of the Habsburg court's favorite composers, and is perhaps best remembered in popular culture as Mozart's chief rival.

A group of citizens is asking the city to back the initiative and activate diplomatic channels to recover the remains from a Vienna cemetery.

Organizer Franco Bozzolin said Tuesday that the "noble initiative" was inspired by local pride. He expects a long battle. The last known attempt to return Salieri's remains failed during World War II.