By Joe Cannavo
June 2 is a holiday in Italy, the Festa della Repubblica in celebration of the referendum that took place on June 2, 1946, in which all Italians (including women who were voting for the first time) chose what form of government to live under — republic or monarchy.
Italians are not celebrating the Festa della Monarchia, yet looking at the electoral results nowadays it is startling to see that even if the outcome was predicted correctly by many, there was still a large minority who voted in favor of the monarchy.
As first Prime Minister Massimo d’Azeglio stated during the first phases of the Unificazione in 1849, “We have made Italy, now we must make the Italians.” This goes a long way to explain how the whole idea of a unified, and then modern republican Italy in 1946 was quite foreign to most Italians at the time.
That said, all peoples of Italy have always loved a parade, and so throughout Italy on this day, in as many different variants as there are distinct regions, towns, and cultures on the peninsula, all of Italy is participating in or a spectator of the Festa della Repubblica parade.
And the mother of all such parades obviously takes place in Rome, with all the muckety-mucks in attendance. The series of events kicks off with the president, prime minister and presidents of the two branches of Parliament leaving a crown of flowers in a solemn ceremony at the eternal flame to the unknown soldier at the foot of the Altare della Patria, aka Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II in Piazza Venezia. The national anthem by the Carabinieri Orchestra follows.
The president then reaches the main grandstand around the corner on Via dei Fori Imperiali, which is halfway to the Coliseum in the special presidential Lancia Flaminia from the ’60s. More music by the Military Orchestra, and then a parade consisting of 3,600 military and civilians representing all the various corps and divisions, among these the Carabinieri and the Bersaglieri known for always running, often playing horns in unison at the same time. Some years as many as 400 mayors from various towns and cities have brought up the rear of the parade.
Of course, as per tradition every year, the Freccie Tricolori (Tri-color Arrows) at some point perform a choreographed fly-by over downtown Rome (with Italian flag smoke trails), by regulation close enough to rattle everyone’s fillings and dentures, no doubt.
Auguri a tutti e Viva l’Italia!