Voting has begin in Venice and the surrounding region on whether to break away from Italy, the BBC reports.
Recent opinion polls suggest that two-thirds of the four million electorate favour splitting from Rome, but the vote will not be legally binding.
The poll was organised by local activists and parties, who want a future state called Republic of Veneto.
This would be reminiscent of the sovereign Venetian republic that existed for more than 1,000 years.
A focal point for culture, architecture and trade, Venice lost its independence to Napoleon in 1797.
Online voting is due to continue until Friday.