ITALIAN students have formed a "family liberation front" to campaign for legislation and funding to enable young people to leave home when they go to university.
The movement's slogan is "Liberation from the Family". Its target is the tradition of young people living with their families into their late 20s and early 30s.
According to official statistics, 50 per cent of Italians are still living with their parents at the age of 30. Young people being unable to free themselves from mamma and papa may be a stereotype but, according to the campaign it is a matter of economic necessity.
Enrico Milic of Italy's largest student organisation said: "In other European countries the state helps young people to leave home. This is not the case in Italy. We are demanding more student housing, more scholarships, more loans and that the universities themselves help students find cheap accommodation and part-time jobs."
The state university system has 1.6 million students, but can only provide low-cost accommodation in university dormitories for ,000. The few scholarships available would only cover a few months rent of a modest flat in a major city.
Part-time jobs are scarce and badly paid so most students stay as close to home as possible, often unable to choose the best university for the field they are interested in and often being forced to commute for hours to attend lectures.
Those who insist on leaving home find themselves at the mercy of a black market of often squalid lodgings at proportionately high prices; in big cities up to Pounds 200 a month for one room with the use of a kitchen and bathroom, or Pounds 130 to share a double room.
"In Pisa we have set up a task-force that has already initiated a dozen lawsuits against landlords who charge exorbitant prices and rent rooms without contracts and without paying any tax," Mr Milic said.
"In Italy the phenomenon of mammismo, the inability to cut the umbilical cord with the family, is undoubtedly more entrenched compared with other parts of Europe. But we believe it is the duty of the state to encourage emancipation as a means of producing more mature and independent citizens."