On the Cover: Festa della Repubblica

Each year on the 2nd of June, Italy celebrates the Festa della Repubblica (Festival of the Republic). The day, similar to Independence Day in the U.S. and other countries, commemorates the institutional referendum held by universal suffrage in 1946, in which the Italian people were called to the polls to decide on the form of government, republic or monarchy, following WWII and the fall of Fascism. Italians chose to become a Republic with 12,717,923 votes versus 10,719,284 votes for the monarchy and, consequently, the male descendants of the House of Savoy were sent into exile. 

Every year, a military parade is held in Rome to commemorate the date and is presided over by the President of the Italian Republic in his role as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, with the Prime Minister and  other high officers of state attending the ceremony. The first military parade in honor of the new Italian Republic was held in Rome in Via dei Fori Imperiali in 1948. The following year, with Italy's entry into NATO, 10 parades were held simultaneously across the country and in 1950, the parade was featured for the first time in the protocol of official celebrations. This provides for the ceremonial laying of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Vittoriano. 

The ceremony continues in the afternoon with the opening of the gardens of the Quirinale Palace, seat of the President of the Republic, and with musical performances by the band ensembles of the Italian Army, Italian Navy, Italian Air Force, the Arma dei Carabinieri, State Police, the Guardia di Finanza, the Penitentiary Police Corps, and the State Forestry Corps. During the ceremony, the Italian National anthem is sung. Il Canto degli Italiani (The Song of Italians), best known amongst Italians as Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) and Inno di Mameli (Mameli’s Hymn), is the national anthem of Italy. Written by Goffredo Mameli and set to music by Michele Novaro, it was chosen as the provisional anthem on October 12, 1946 and remained the de facto anthem until 2017 when it received the status of a national anthem de jure. During the anthem, the Frecce Tricolori, the aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Air Force, crosses the skies of Rome, emitting a design with red, green and white smoke that resembles the Italian flag. On June 2, Italian embassies hold special celebrations and invite the Heads of State of the host countries while the President of the Italian Republic receives best wishes from all over the world.

On this day, banks, many shops and restaurants, museums, and tourist sites are closed or have reduced hours. Typically, there are fewer buses, trams and metro trains running throughout the day. In a non-Covid year, festivals, concerts and parades are held all over the country in observance of the holiday. Extravagant fireworks displays can be seen amongst the skies. It truly is a grand day of celebration.


Fratelli d’Italia

Fratelli d’Italia,

l’Italia s’è desta,

dell’elmo di Scipio

s’è cinta la testa.

Dov’è la Vittoria?

Le porga la chioma,

ché schiava di Roma

Iddio la creò.

Stringiamci a coorte,

siam pronti alla morte.

Siam pronti alla morte,

l’Italia chiamò.

Stringiamci a coorte,

siam pronti alla morte.

Siam pronti alla morte,

l’Italia chiamò! Sì!

Brothers of Italy,

Italy has awoken,

with Scipio’s helmet

Upon her head.

Where is Victory?

Let her bow down,

For God has made her

A slave of Rome.

Let us join in a cohort,

we are ready to die.

We are ready to die,

Italy has called.

Let us join in a cohort,

We are ready to die.

We are ready to die,

Italy has called! Yes!