Ancona, a city on Italy’s Adriatic coast, opened a registry for same-sex couples yesterday.

Adults who “emotional ties and who have been living at least one year together” may register, according to news agency ANSA.

Earlier this year Padua city council outraged the Vatican by allowing gay and lesbian couples to register their ‘family.’

Romano Prodi came to power in April promising civil partnership style laws for the gay community as well as heterosexual cohabiting couples, but a bill has stalled in the Italian parliament.

A poll in February found that 67% of practising Catholics in Italy support protections for heterosexual co-habitees, a number which falls to 35% who think gay and lesbians should get legal protection.

Overall, 80% of Italians are in favour.