Road safety was the main focus as thousands of cyclists staged a protest near the Colosseum in Rome.
"Policy in this country is made for drivers," said Alberto Fiorillo, one of the organisers of the initiative timed to coincide with protests in London and Edinburgh as part of a Cities Fit for Cycling initiative launched by The Times.
"There's a civil war going on on the roads," said Paolo Bellino. "This is a necessity that has been put off for too long. In the Netherlands, pro-cycling policies were adopted 40 years ago. We're 40 years behind," he added.
Protesters lay down in memory of slain cyclists on Via dei Fori Imperiali built by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini through the Roman Forum, calling for the busy thoroughfare in Rome's historic heart to be pedestrianised.
Organisers said more than 2,500 cyclists have been killed on Italy's roads over the past decade, with Rome and Milan showing the highest accident rates.
Potholes and poor driving make Rome one of the least bike-friendly European capitals, but many towns in northern Italy have pro-cycling policies.