In Italy, Republic Day is among the most important festivities, albeit it's quite recent. Let's find out its history, when and how it's celebrated
The Italian calendar includes 12 national holidays, plus a whole series of other "lesser" holidays that are celebrated only in some cities, such as those dedicated to patron saints.
Among these special days, the Republic Day, in italian Festa della Repubblica, is one of the most heartfelt by the population, despite the fact that, for historical reasons, it has existed for less than a century. It is a secular holiday established, as can be easily deduced from the name, to commemorate the birth of the Republic in Italy.
The origins of the Festa della Repubblica
The birth of the Italian Republic dates back to the end of the Second World War. In fact, a referendum was held shortly after the end of the conflict to decide which form of government to give to the nation. The country, which until then had been a monarchy, was transformed into a republic. Following this event, the last king of Italy, Umberto II of Savoy, left for exile.
It is worth remembering that the days of the referendum, 2 and 3 June 1946, are important also because they marked the first universal suffrage vote in Italy.
The following year, June 2, 1947, the Republic Day was officially celebrated for the first time with military parades in Rome. Later, in 1948, the Vittoriano monument was inaugurated, and it's still one of the main venues for the celebrations of June 2, together with Palazzo del Quirinale. They both are in Rome.
This day officially became a national holiday the year after, in 1949, and remained so only until 1977. In that year, to try to cope with a heavy economic crisis, the Republic Day was moved to the first Sunday of June.
Subsequently, only in 2001, June 2 returned once again and definitively, to be a day of celebration for the whole country.
Hot to celebrate the Festa della Repubblica in Italy
Every year to celebrate the anniversary of June 2 in Rome, an important ceremony takes place, in which the highest office of the state, the President of the Republic, takes part.
The flag is raised at the Altare della Patria, then the President offers a wreath of flowers to the monument of the Unknown Soldier, the Vittoriano. With the national anthem in the background this is always a very touching moment but the most spectacular one is undoubtedly the passage of the Frecce Tricolori. It is a patrol of 10 planes that fly in formation, leaving colored trails in the sky that reproduce the tricolore, the Italian flag. On the planes there are only experienced pilots who train for years before being able to perform the complicated stunts that the Frecce Tricolori have become famous for.
Later, in Via dei Fori Imperiali, a military parade takes place. Finally, there is the opening to the public of the wonderful gardens of the Palazzo del Quirinale, the official residence of the President of the Republic. Every year thousands of people take the opportunity to visit the Palace, which is always open to the public, for a few days a week.
What to do in Italy for the Republic Day
Although 2 June a very important day, which marks the birth of modern Italy, there are still no real traditions or even typical dishes to cook. However, this doesn't mean that there is no way to make Festa della Repubblica a special day.
Those in Rome on the occasion of June 2 can of course attend the live celebrations. However, a few weeks before the official start of summer, the climate in Italy is generally mild and the sun shines almost everywhere.
The Italians take the opportunity to organize a fun day out of town and with a little luck even to go for the first trips to the beach. Even better when 2 June happens close to the weekend. In this case, many also take the opportunity to travel a bit, for example to visit a city of art.
Even for those who stay in their own city, the options are many. It's a good opportunity to visit monuments, to organize a picnic in the park, or maybe to keep fit with a little urban trekking. Very often, at least in the larger cities, the shops are open all day, so this is also the right occasion to go shopping.
The Republic must be just and uncorrupted, strong and humane: strong with all the guilty, humane with the weak and dispossessed. This is what those who conquered it wanted after twenty years of struggle against fascism and two years of war of liberation