On June 2, Italy commemorates the birth of the Italian Republic with the Festa della Repubblica Italiana, or the Festival of the Italian Republic.
In 1946, after the fall of Fascism and the end of World War II, an institutional referendum was held June 2-3 to determine whether the Italians preferred their government to remain a monarchy or to become a republic. After 85 years of reign—with 12,717,923 votes against 10,719,284—the monarchs of the House of Savoy were exiled, and Italy became a republic.
Three years later on May 27, 1949, parliament passed Article 260, which declared June 2 as the data di fondazione della Repubblica, or the date of the founding of the republic. It became a national holiday.
Before the founding of the republic, the Italian national holiday was the first Sunday in June. It was known as the Feast of the Albertine Statute, which was the constitution that King Charles Albert conceded to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in Italy on March 4, 1848.
Between 1977 and 2001, an economic downturn in Italy resulted in Republic Day being moved to the first Sunday in June and stripped of its status as a national holiday. Only in 2001 was the celebration moved back to June 2, becoming a public holiday again.
For Italians, it is similar to France’s July 14 celebration known as Bastille Day and America’s Fourth of July. On this day, special ceremonies take place in Italy. All over the world, Italian embassies hold celebrations, to which the host country’s heads of state are invited. In Italian communities around the world, locals hold special events like parades and festivals.Like many other Italian holidays, the annual Festa della Repubblica Italiana has its traditions. Most notable are the events in Rome, where the morning ceremonies include the laying of a wreath at Italy’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and a military parade, presided over by the president of the Italian Republic. The prime minister and other high officers of state also attend.
Later in the day, the public gardens at the Palazzo del Quirinale, the seat of the presidency of the Italian Republic, feature performances by the martial bands of the Italian Army, Navy, Air Force, Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza.
One of the highlights is the flyover by the Frecce Tricolori. Officially known as the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (National Acrobatic Patrol), the nine Italian Air Force aircraft, in tight formation, fly over the Vittoriano monument, trailing green, white and red smoke—the colors of Italy’s flag.