The Festa della Repubblica Italiana (Festival of the Italian Republic) is celebrated every June 2 to commemorate the birth of the Italian Republic. On June 2 and 3 1946, following the fall of Fascism and the end of World War II, an institutional referendum was held in which Italians were asked to vote on what form of government they preferred, either a monarchy or republic. The majority of Italians favored a republic, so the monarchs of the House of Savoy were exiled. On May 27, 1949, lawmakers passed Article 260, cited June 2 as data di fondazione della Repubblica (date of the founding of the Republic) and declared it a national holiday.
Republic Day in Italy is similar to the French July 14 (the anniversary of Bastille Day) and July 4 in the U.S. (the day in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed). Italian embassies throughout the world hold celebrations, to which are invited the heads of state of the host country, and special ceremonies are held in Italy.
Before the founding of the Republic, the Italian national holiday was the first Sunday in June, the Feast of the Albertine Statute (the Statuto Albertino was the constitution that King Charles Albert conceded to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in Italy on March 4. 1848).
In June of 1948, Rome hosted a military parade in honor of the Republic on Via dei Fori Imperiali. The following year, with Italy's entry into NATO, ten parades took place simultaneously across the country. It was in 1950 that the parade was included for the first time in the protocol of official celebrations.
In March 1977, because of an economic downturn, Republic Day in italy was moved to the first Sunday in June. Only in 2001 was the celebration moved back to June 2, becoming a public holiday again.
Like many other Italian holidays, the Festa della Repubblica Italiana has a tradition of symbolic events. Currently, the celebration includes the laying of a wreath at the Unknown Soldier at the Altare della Patria and a military parade in central Rome, presided over by the President of the Italian Republic in his role as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The Prime Minister, formally known as the President of the Council of Ministers, and other high officers of state also attend.
Every year the parade has a different theme, for instance:
- 2003—57º anniversario: "Le Forze Armate nel sistema di sicurezza internazionale per il progresso pacifico e democratico dei popoli" (the Armed Forces in the international security system for the advancement of peace and democratization of peoples)
- 2004—58º anniversario: "Le Forze Armate per la Patria" (The Armed Forces for the homeland)
- 2010—64º anniversario: "La Repubblica e le sue Forze Armate impegnate in missioni di pace" (The Republic and its Armed Forces committed to peace missions)
- 2011—65º anniversario: "150º anniversario dell’Unità d’Italia" (150th anniversary of the unification of Italy)
The ceremonies continues in the afternoon with the opening of the public gardens at the Palazzo del Quirinale, seat of the Presidency of the Italian Republic, with musical performances by a variety of martial bands including those of the Italian army, navy, air force, carabinieri, and Guardia di Finanza.
One of the highlights of the day is the flyover by the Frecce Tricolori. Officially known as the Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale (National Acrobatic Patrol), the nine Italian Air Force aircraft, in tight formation, fly over the Vittoriano monument trailing green, white, and red smoke—the colors of Italy's flag.