Italian tractors en route to Rome in protest

STORY: Farmers from agricultural regions such as Tuscany headed south towards the capital, flying the Italian flag and carrying hand-written signs with slogans including "No farmer, No food."

They were expected to congregate on the outskirts of Rome pending further protests later in the week.

The Italian farmers share many of the grievances expressed by their counterparts in other parts of Europe during a wave of protests over the past few weeks.

They complain that their products are being undercut by cheaper imports from areas outside the European Union such as north Africa, rising fuel costs and the impact of EU measures designed to protect the environment and counter climate change.