The “Festa della Repubblica” is the Italian national holiday celebrated on the second day of June. It commemorates the institutional referendum of 1946 when (by universal suffrage) the Italian population was called to decide what form of government (monarchy or republic) to give to the country after the Second World War and the fall of Fascism. After 85 years of monarchy, with 12,717,923 votes for and 10,719,284 votes against, Italy became a Republic, and the monarchs of the House of Savoy were deposed and exiled. This is one of the most important Italian national holidays which, like July 14th in France (Storming of the Bastille) and July 4th in the USA (Independence Day), celebrate the birth of the nation.
All over the world Italian embassies hold celebrations with Heads of State of the host country. Heads of State from all over the world send congratulations to the President of the Republic. Special official ceremonies take place in Italy.
Before the foundation of the Republic, the national holiday was on the first Sunday of June, anniversary of the Statuto (constitution) granted by the King Carlo Alberto of Savoy.
In June 1948, the first military parade was conducted in via dei Fori Imperiali in Rome. In 1949, after the entry of Italy into the NATO, 10 more parades were conducted in different cities, such as Pordenone, Latina and L’Aquila. In 1950, for the first time, the parade was included in the celebrations for the Republic Day and in 1961, on the hundredth anniversary of the unity, it was also conducted in Turin and Florence, the first capitals of unified Italy. Because of Pope John XXIII’s death in 1963, celebrations were postponed on 4 November.
In 1965 a group of flags which took part in The Great War paraded to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the entry of Italy into the First World War. These flags, kept in The Vittoriano, were placed in command of Colonel Alberto Li Gobbi who was awarded with a gold medal for valour during the Second World War.
The parade was also conducted during the protest of the early 70s. In 1976 it was suspended because of the earthquake in Friuli and it was replaced by a deposition of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In the meantime, groups of flags which had took part in the War of Liberation and Gonfalons of the cities awarded with gold medals for military valour had been introduced to the parade of 1975. These became permanent elements of 1983-89 parades.
At present, the ceremony consists of a deposition of a laurel wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, placed inside the Altare della Patria in Rome and of a military parade in the presence of the highest offices of the state.
All Armed Forces, Police Forces, the Fire Brigade and the Italian Red Cross, along with some military delegations of the NATO and of the European Union, take part in the parade and in the deposition of the laurel wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The ceremony goes on in the afternoon with the opening to the public of the Palazzo del Quirinale Gardens, official residence of the President of the Italian Republic, and with concerts performed by the band of the Italian Army, Italian Navy, Italian Air Force, Carabinieri, State Police, Guardia di Finanza, Polizia Penitenziaria (Penitentiary Police) and Corpo Forestale dello Stato (State Forestry Department).