The mayor of Naples appealed to angry residents on Saturday to stay calm in the city's two-week-old garbage crisis, which the prime minister called an emergency that must to be tackled quickly.
Scattered clashes between youths and police continued, news reports said, as garbage accumulated in stinking mountains in the city. Collectors stopped picking up trash on Dec. 21 because there is no more room for it at the dumps.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi told journalists in his hometown of Bologna that Naples' garbage problems had to be solved "once and for all," and that government ministers would meet today to come up with a strategy.
"Everybody's watching us, and I don't want Italy to give off this negative image," Prodi said. "It's an emergency we must tackle rapidly."
Garbage pileups due to shortage of space in dumps have plagued the port city sporadically for several years. Although citizens are angered by the uncollected trash, they have also blocked plans to open new dumps in the Naples area.
Groups of youths with their faces largely covered threw stones and pieces of metal at police in several parts of the Pianura neighborhood before rushing away, some of them on motor scooters, the Italian news agency Apcom reported from Naples.
Naples Mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino said she was appealing to the "overwhelming majority" of law-abiding citizens in the Pianura neighborhood, where work has begun to reopen a long-closed dump.
"Respect the law," the mayor was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA.
In Pianura, the heart of the protests, residents tossed tree trunks on roads and spread oil on streets to try to thwart the arrival of police.
Officials have blamed infiltration of garbage collection and services by organized crime and disorganized bureaucracy for the piles of trash on the city's outskirts and lining streets in Naples' historic center.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has said he was alarmed by the situation and called on officials to resolve the problem.
Residents have taken to burning the trash, unleashing clouds of smoke in the city.