Italian police used tear gas on a group of some 400 mainly African migrants who marched towards the French border from the northern town of Ventimiglia in the early hours of Monday.
The group, most of whom are believed to be from Sudan, said they were fed-up with being held by police.
“France, France, go France, no Italy, no Italia, go France,” one of the migrants, who was not identified by name, was filmed saying, reports Reuters.
The group was seen walking up a motorway towards the French border when the confrontation with Italian police took place. Some members of the group attempted to break away and cross a river to find a way into France.
However, hours later most of the group were seen sitting on the road surrounded by police.
Ventimiglia has been dubbed Italy’s ‘mini-Calais’ in the past, a reference to the port city in northern France that formerly hosted a makeshift camp full of migrants who were seeking to reach Britain.
European Union law says migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter the bloc, and Italy is struggling to deal with the growing numbers.