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ITALIAN HISTORY

Five things you should know about Italy’s Republic Day

Here's a quick guide to what and how Italy will celebrate on Thursday, June 2nd.

Five things you should know about Italy’s Republic Day
Italy marks Republic Day on June 2nd. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

We get a day off in Italy on June 2nd, as Republic Day, or the Festa della Repubblica, is a public holiday.

As you can probably guess from the name, this is date Italy commemorates the abolition of the monarchy and the creation of the Italian Republic we have today.

READ ALSO: The Italian holiday calendar for 2022

Here are a few curious facts you may or may not already know about the events we’re marking this week.

It all started in 1946

June 2nd, 1946, was the day Italians voted to abolish the monarchy, and the Republic of Italy was born; hence Republic Day.

After an 85-year monarchy, which had for the most part been very popular with the people, a referendum resulted in 12,717,923 votes ‘for’ (54 percent) and 10,719,284 votes ‘against’ (45 percent).

Following the result, all male members and future heirs of the ruling House of Savoy were deposed and exiled, most ending up in Switzerland.

Italy’s final king only ruled for one month

The House of Savoy had ruled since Italy’s Unification in 1861, but its final monarch, Umberto II (or Umberto Nicola Tommaso Giovanni Maria di Savoia, in full), only got to be king for a month, earning him the nickname ‘Re di Maggio’ or ‘the May King’ – slightly unfair since he actually ruled from May 9th to June 12th.

Umberto had actually been acting as head of state since 1944; after Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime – to which the monarchy had been closely allied – collapsed, Italy’s wartime King Victor Emmanuel III transferred his powers to his only son in the hope it would give the monarchy a PR boost.

Obviously, it didn’t work.

Italy will never have another monarchy

For one thing, the constitution now forbids a monarchy, and for another, the House of Savoy family formally renounced their claim to the throne as one of the conditions for the right to return from exile, in 2002.

Umberto refused the right to return to his homeland, dying in Geneva in 1983.

So what happened to the others? Prince Victor Emmanuel, his wife, and son returned to Italy in 2003 after former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party overturned their exile.

But they weren’t exactly welcomed home with open arms – not least because Victor Emmanuel – descendant of King Victor Emmanuel III – had not long before defended Mussolini’s racial laws as “not all that bad”.

READ ALSO: Ditching the monarchy or a day at the beach: What exactly is Italy celebrating on Republic Day?

There were numerous protests and the mayor of Naples refused a €15,000 donation from the family to a local hospice.

More recently, in 2021, the wartime King’s great-grandson Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy apologised to the country’s Jewish community for his ancestor’s role in dictator Mussolini’s racial laws and the Holocaust.

Republic Day changed dates for 24 years

In 1977, Italy’s large number of public holidays were thought to be having a negative impact on the already struggling economy. So to avoid affecting business, Republic Day was moved to the first Sunday in June. It was only changed back to June 2nd in 2001.

The first Sunday of June had a long history as Italy’s national holiday; before Italy became a Republic, this holiday was known as the Feast of the Albertine Statute – the constitution of 1848, which was seen as the foundation of the Kingdom of Italy.

There’s a lot going on to celebrate

Though things have been quieter for the past two years with Covid lockdown measures in place, celebrations are expected to be back in full swing for 2022.

Rome hosts a huge huge military parade through the historic centre, with smaller, similar events in many other cities and towns throughout the country.

Elsewhere in the capital, the presidential palace opens its gardens to the public free of charge.


Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

But perhaps the highlight is the flyover by Frecce Tricolori, Italy’s Air Force. The planes will fly over the Altare della Patria monument in Piazza Venezia, leaving a trail of green, white and red smoke.

If you’re not interested in joining in the Republic Day celebrations, be aware that there will be road closures in Rome as the parade takes place, and elsewhere, public transport is unlikely to be running as normal (check for travel updates before travelling). Some tourist sites will also be closed.

To find out more about how Italy is marking the day, check the official website (in Italian).

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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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