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ITALIAN TRADITIONS

Why does Italy celebrate Liberation Day on April 25th?

It's a public holiday in Italy, but what exactly are we celebrating? Here's a quick look at the history.

Why does Italy celebrate Liberation Day on April 25th?
The Italian Air Force aerobatic unit Frecce Tricolori (Tricolor Arrows) perform on April 25 over Rome. 2022 marks the 76th anniversary of Liberation Day, which marks the fall of Nazi occupation in 1945. (Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

Italy celebrates Liberation Day on April 25th, known in Italian as Il Giorno della Liberazione (Liberation Day), or La Festa della Resistenza (Celebration of the Resistance).

The date has been a public holiday in Italy since 1946 and it marks the end of the Italian Civil War and the end of the Nazi occupation.

Why today?

Not all of Italy was liberated on April 25th, 1945. So here’s the short version of what happened.

The first uprising took place in Bologna, which was liberated on April 21st, followed by Genoa on the 23rd.

The 25th came to be such a notable date because it was the day that the industrial northern cities of Milan and Turin were liberated. 

American forces arrived on May 1st, and the occupying German forces officially surrendered the next day.

What was the resistance movement?

Italy’s partisan resistance movement had been going since the start of the war.

It was made up of many different groups, including a wide range of political parties – the Italian Communist Party, the Italian Socialist Party, the Christian Democrats, the Labour Democratic Party and the Italian Liberal Party), which together made up the National Liberation Committee of Upper Italy (CLNAI).

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The CLNAI first called for an uprising on April 19th.

On the morning of the 25th, a general strike was announced by partisan Sandro Pertini, who went on to become President of the Republic.

Factories were occupied, including the one where the Corriere della Sera newspaper, which had been connected to the fascist regime, was printed. The partisans used that factory to print news of the victory.

This history continues to heavily influence Italian politics and society today.

Foreigners learning about Italian politics are often surprised by the relatively large number of people, including young people, who strongly identify with either communist or fascist politics in Italy.

A demonstrator wears a t-shirt procaliming “partisans forever” on Liberation Day 2015. Photo: AFP

What happened after the Liberation?

After April 25th, all fascist leaders were sentenced to death.

Benito Mussolini was shot three days later, after he tried to flee north to Switzerland. The Americans arrived in the city on May 1st and German forces eventually officially surrendered on May 2nd.

The Liberation was a major turning point in Italy’s history, as it led to a referendum on June 2nd which resulted in the end of the monarchy and the creation of the Italian Republic.

READ ALSO: On the trail of the Italian Resistance in Milan

The Constitution of Italy was drawn up in 1947.

April 25th was designated a national holiday in 1949 by Alcide De Gasperi, the last Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy.

How does Italy mark the day?

Apart from having the day off, this is a day when Italians make their political views clear.

Politicians give speeches each year to emphasise the importance of remembering the resistance movement, and pay tribute at Rome’s Altare della Patria, the national monument to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy.

There are usually numerous official ceremonies across the country, including visits to the tombs of partisan soldiers.

President Sergio Mattarella usually makes an annual visit to the Ardeatine Caves mausoleum, where 335 Romans were killed by Nazis in 1944.

Most years, Italian cities hold marches and parades, and political rallies would usually take place in Rome and Milan.

You’ll hear the song ‘Bella Ciao’ at most of these events. It became known as the anthem of the Italian resistance movement and today reminds listeners of the sacrifices made by those fighters.

Many shops and services including restaurants, post offices and public transport are usually closed on this date.

Most years, it’s a good day to visit a museum. 

A version of this article was originally published in 2016.

Member comments

  1. I’m from New York City but Rome is my favorite city. I’m sorry that you omitted the invasion in Anzio and the cemetery between Anzio and Nettuno dedicated to the soldiers who lost their lives from the African campaign and the Anzio campaign. Although the Anzio landing was almost a complete disaster, they still made it to Rome and the liberation there.

  2. Yes, the end of World War II but the celebration is about the end of 20 years of dictatorship under the Fascist regime, and the end of the suffering brought about by World War II . The end of 20 years of Italy suffering under a Fascist dictatorship that had prevented the Italians from having free elections.

  3. Unfortunately, there are a large number of pro-Fascist Italians still on the loose. And they vote. What is to be done?

  4. The partisans did not begin fighting until after September 8, 1943. Before that, there were groups of anti-Fascists such as Giustizia e Libertà based in Turin who opposed the Fascist regime, but only after the Nazis steamrolled into north Italy did they and other interests begin the fight.

  5. In Australia April 25th is Anzac Day – a public holiday to commemorate all those who who served and died in wars. Ironically, it has always been associated with the Gallipoli campaign in 1915 – a tragically doomed operation where thousands of young men lost their lives.

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ITALIAN TRADITIONS

EXPLAINED: Why are Italians angry at streaming platform DAZN?

The latest controversy to affect Italy, eliciting reactions from everyone from football fans to politicians, involves the streaming platform DAZN. Here's what's going on.

EXPLAINED: Why are Italians angry at streaming platform DAZN?

If you want to anger an Italian, one sure way is to take away their football games. This is exactly what happened on Sunday evening when the streaming platform DAZN logged users off just before the Serie A matches.

The bug couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The streaming platform has exclusive rights to the Italian first league, Serie A, and earlier this year announced a €29.99 monthly subscription and stricter rules limiting device access and blocking simultaneous viewing from different locations in an effort to curb “piracy”.

This is the first round of Serie A football matches since the new prices came in on DAZN. The championship is also coming back during the summer holidays when most Italians are home ready to watch their calcio, as Italians call soccer

READ ALSO: Italian word of the day: ‘Azzurro’

Many have complained that the new high prices come with a lousy service, with Sunday’s “blackout” only the most recent example. Users were given “emergency links” to log in, but many complained they could still not access the programme.

Politicians join the aggravation

Not only did the hashtag #DAZN go up the list of Italy’s trending topics (and it still holds a premium spot over there), but the dispute became political.

The country’s Democratic Party (PD) said: “tens of thousands of citizens have paid for a service in advance and now suffer with a shameful disservice, in almost all parts of Italy, for the problems with DAZN Italy”.

The party called on Agcom, the regulator and competition authority for the communication industries, and Serie A to intervene.

Politicians from all political spectrums have commented on the issue, including Carlo Calenda, Matteo Salvini (Lega), and Maurizio Gasparri (Forza Italia). Football players such as Daniele de Rossi and other Italian celebrities also complained about the lack of service.

READ ALSO: Home entertainment: a quick guide to video streaming, VPNs and audiobooks

On Sunday evening, the streaming service released a statement, later deleted, recognising the connection issues. “Some users are currently experiencing access issues on our platform. We are working hard to find a solution as soon as possible and apologise for the inconvenience.”, the company said.

What will happen now?

Most of the politicians said they would bring the problems to parliament or Italy’s communication regulator. The main issue is DAZN’s exclusivity rights to Italian football.

The problems will likely influence future decisions on who has the rights to show the games – with broadcaster Sky, which used to have broadcast rights to the matches, looking into getting back on the field.

Of course, nothing is certain yet, and at least for this season, DAZN will continue to transmit games to its subscribers.

One thing seems to be sure, though: If there is one issue that can unite all Italians, it is football.

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