Tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, merchants and artisans gathered in central Rome on Tuesday, demanding an urgent reform of the fiscal system, removal of bureaucracy and more access to credit.
Around 60,000 people took to the streets to answer the call made by small business association Rete Imprese Italia, which asked for a comprehensive industrial policy that could boost growth in the sector.
"As small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), we employ most of the labor force in Italy. Yet we have been neglected for years," protestor Adriano Sonzini told Xinhua.
"We want a tax system compatible with the economic growth and we ask for respect," said Carlo Sangalli, head of Italy's main retail group, Confcommercio.
Political parties often "courted" SMEs with promises before elections, and regularly neglected them afterwards, Sangalli said.
The protestors said they hope newly-appointed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi would keep his promises to make swift reforms, starting with cutting labor cost and taxes and cutting bureaucracy for businesses.
"The new cabinet's room for manoeuvre will not be very large, but also not so small. So I think something can be achieved," said Giuseppe Ragusa, professor of economics with LUISS-Guido Carli University in Rome.
Reducing inefficiency and costs of bureaucracy for SMEs should be the first priority, he suggested.