Italians are deciding whether to choose their most right-wing government since World War Two in an election being followed closely across Europe.
Giorgia Meloni leads the far-right Brothers of Italy party and is aiming to become the country’s first female prime minister allied with two other parties on the right.
She has softened her image and resents being linked to Italy’s fascist past.
Almost 51 million Italians have the right to vote until 23:00 (21:00 GMT).
President Sergio Mattarella cast his ballot early in the Sicilian capital, Palermo, while Ms Meloni’s main rival – centre-left leader, Enrico Letta – voted in Rome and her far-right ally, Matteo Salvini, voted in Milan. There are 2.6m first-time voters and 4.7 million abroad.
Giorgia Meloni backs Western sanctions on Russia and has toned down rhetoric on Europe.
But she still embraces an old slogan adopted by the fascists – “God, fatherland and family” – she has spoken out against the “LGBT lobby” and called for a naval blockade of Libya to halt migration.
An hour south of Rome, in the town of Latina, observers believe the far right can seize the town from the left. Founded in 1932 by fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, Latina still bears traces of the dictator, but has suffered from years of underfunding.
“Take a look, it’s a disaster,” says one passerby. The town has had a left-wing mayor in recent years, but the far right has Latina in its sights. Matteo Salvini came here last week to round off his League party’s campaign. Centre-right Forza Italia under ex-prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, 85, is also part of her coalition.
“Meloni speaks to the guts of the people,” says Gianluca Atlante, a journalist with local newspaper, Latina Oggi. Behind him sits the imposing Palazzo Emme, built in the shape of a letter M for Mussolini. These days it serves as the local headquarters of the finance ministry’s law enforcement agency.
Italy’s economy was picking up after the COVID-19 pandemic, but then the energy crisis – largely triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – sent prices soaring. While the politicians have spent recent days arguing over Russia and Europe, Italians are most worried about paying their bills. -BBC