The Eternal City might be known for its famous historic gladiators battling it out with swords in the arena, but this weekend saw a clash, not of steel, but of pillows.

Pillow fighters gathered in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, under instructions to conceal their pillows until the clock struck 6pm at which time, around 50 people unsheathed their fluffy weapons and began wildly wielding them with surprising force.

Unsuspecting tourists and locals enjoying an early lunch or a quiet drink in the Piazza seemed on the whole delighted to witness the spectacle as pillows burst open littering the floor with their stuffing.

At around 6.40 the “fluffy apocolypse” bringers lay breathless and flushed on the cobbles, heads rested on their pillows, if they were still intact, and sang Roman street songs which spoke of carefree times and a “we don’t care” attitude. One fighter said this was a highlight: “I loved the spirit of it, especially at the end when we lay on the ground in the piazza and sang Roman songs.”

This year saw pillow fights take place across the World marking International Pillowfight Day, which was officially on April 7th, but events took place in the weeks surrounding the date in places as far apart as Spain, The U.S., Brazil, South Africa, Dubai and Russia.

The event takes place in Rome on the third Sunday of April. Some seasoned fighters labelled their weapons or sported T-shirts with slogans such as “Pillow me if you love me.” A handful also attended in fancy dress, which inspired much targeting of conspicuous individuals – one fighter dressed in a green all in one suit was soon buried in a deluge of blows from his fellow fighters after a shout of “l’uomo verde!”

The fight is part of an international “Urban Playground Movement” which turns public places into ‘playgrounds’. The movement has been responsible for hundreds of different events, including a mass silent disco in a London tube station

The movement organisers say: “One of our goals is to make these unique happenings in public space become a significant part of popular culture, partially replacing passive, non-social consumption experiences like watching television, and consciously celebrating public spaces in our cities as our “urban living rooms.” One pillow-weilder thought the event was “a great way to get people away from braindead activities like watching tv and playing on their computers.”

Getting the stuffing knocked out of him - l'uomo verde