Italy has seen a massive spike in violence against immigrants and minority communities since the 2018 election ushered in Matteo Salvini and his far-right government.

There were 12 shootings, two murders and 33 physical assaults of immigrants just two months into Salvini's tenure and it continues to get worse. While some see the country's trend toward the far right as frightening, others have used it as a call to action.  

Antonella Bundu became the first Black woman to run for mayor of a major Italian city when she decided to run in her hometown of Florence in March. She specifically mentions Salvini as a source for inspiration for her campaign.

"Salvini has almost institutionalised racism and discrimination," she told Al Jazeera

“The real provocation is not that I am a woman, or even a black woman. The real irritation for some is that we have succeeded in creating a coalition of parties of the true left, whose values are anti-fascism and the struggle for freedom,” Bundu told The Guardian last month.

“We represent the left of equality, the left that is close to the people, the left that Italy has always had within itself, but that recently seems forgotten. Florence is the city that received the gold medal for its resistance against the fascists. The time has come to remind people.”

She is now one of nine candidates running in the May 26 Florence mayoral elections. It is seen as a three-way race between Bundu, her hard-right rival Ubaldo Bocci and a center-left party that would back her if there was a runoff.

She worked for Oxfam and has spent years as an activist in Florence. The 49-year-old has a Florentine mother and a father from Sierra Leone. Her father studied architecture and lived in the city for many years.

"When people see me, they instinctively tend to be a little wary and this is because they still struggle to accept the existence of a multicultural society. If I think about it, there are several episodes of intolerance, more or less serious, that I have suffered," she said in an interview with Lettera Donna last week

Bundu has had to face racism and opposition from members of her own party who think her candidacy will allow the far right to win the race, but she believes her candidacy can bring a spotlight to those often left out of the conversation in Italy. 

"Florentines should choose us if they want a city that is for everyone. Not only because of a principle of human solidarity, which is also important in itself, but because only starting from the needs of those who are worse off can we be sure of making our beautiful city a city for everyone,“ she said last week

"Florence must return to being a city whose beauties and riches are first of all available to those who live and live it every day. We need a modern integrated mobility, a city that takes care of creating and redistributing job opportunities without resorting to exploitation and undeclared work, which takes care of the environment and social and cultural spaces, a true antidote to real insecurities and perceived.