Festa della Repubblica (Eng. “Feast of the Republic”) on June 2 is celebrated as the National Day in Italy to commemorate the referendum of 1946. However, there’s also an unofficial second National Day of similar significance that is celebrated up and down “the Boot”. As the name already suggests, the Anniversario della Liberazione (Eng. “Liberation Day”) commemorates Italy’s liberation from fascism paving the way for today’s Republic. Festivities and demonstrations across the country have been part of every April 25 ever since. The path to liberation, however, was trying.
A date of symbolic value
After two decades in power, fascist dictator Benito Mussolini fled Salò on 25 April 1945 to escape Allied forces – partly because the attempted agreement with the non-communistic wing of the resistance movement Resistenza fell through, partly because information leaked that German troops stationed in Italy were negotiating their partial surrender, which would have put an end to the Republic of Salò. The Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale (CLN, Eng. “National Liberation Committee”) announced the success of the Resistenza and, at the same time, ordered the death of all fascists still on the loose. Upon being captured a few days later, Mussolini was executed. Furthermore, United States Armed Forces freed several large cities, such as Turin and Milan.
As a matter of fact, April 25 mostly is a date of symbolic value, as Italy wasn’t fully liberated until 1 May 1945. The democratisation of Italy, however, started on that very day in April eventually culminating in the referendum of 2 June 1946, the actual National Day. A 1949 bill declared April 25 a national holiday.
Festivities on April 25
The Anniversario della Liberazione bring numerous festivities and demonstrations by veterans, partisans and various anti-fascist groups with it. Frequently, the focus lies on symbolic gestures, for instance when the final piece of the Obelisk of Axum, which Mussolini had brought to Rome in 1937, was returned to Ethiopia in 2005. Every larger town holds its own festivals that can last several days. Bologna, for instance, has the Festa della Resistenza Popolare near its central station, while L’Antifascismo in Piazza has found a home in Milan. Parma holds a series of events all about music, culture and commemoration over several weeks.
Gran Premio della Liberazione
One of the more unusual traditions of April 25 sees the transmission of a former amateur road bicycle road now reserved for under-23 riders by Italy’s national public broadcaster RAI. The actual sportive value of the Gran Premio della Liberazione is secondary at best, because the race held at the Baths of Carcalla in Rome, which was first contested in 1946 on the first anniversary of Italy’s liberation, has symbolic value above all. The ladies’ race has been held on the same route since 2016.
Combine your trip to Italy with joining in the festivities of April 25 and find the best suggestions for your next holiday on ZAINOO!