June 2nd, 1946 marks an important day in Italy, a tense time after a devastating World War that ended in the destruction of so much in Europe but also a pivoting time for Italy’s population and more importantly how they saw their 85-year monarchy. The monarchs, the house of the Savoy, were the country’s rulers since 1861, when Italy became unified as a country.
Would they choose to form a republic or stay with the monarchy?
Change was of the essence so it was on this day that Italians voted to abolish the monarchy, and the Republic of Italy was born; hence the reason to celebrate Festa della Repubblica or Republic Day!
The vote was extremely close, the referendum resulted in 12,717,923 votes ‘for’ the republic and 10,719,284 votes ‘against’ (54% to 45%) and because of this the ruling monarchs of the Savoy, specifically the male members and heirs were exiled from Italy. Women were called to vote for the first time ever and a moment history was born, the constitution now states that establishing a monarchy is forbidden in Italy.
Today is marked normally with big military parades in the capital with celebrations all across the country with the pinnacle event being the colourful flyover by Frecce Tricolori, Italy’s Air Force. You might have seen them on social media lately in as a nationwide tour took place as a symbolic sign of “unity, solidarity and recovery” with all of regions in Italy’s coronavirus emergency.
In fact, the above cover photo was taken last week when the flyover happened in Florence. This amazing capture is by Francesco Spighi Photographer – a talented photographer and friend who has been covering the covid19 situation since the beginning in Florence and even donated 100% of the proceeds of his photos-turned-prints to our local hospital. The fundraiser ends tonight at midnight so get your print if you want to support/purchase a lovely photo of Florence.
While there will be no parades or crowds today because of the Covid situation, the 74th anniversary of the republic will be celebrated instead by illuminating several of the city’s main monuments in red, white and green; namely the Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte and the historical city gates, also the Artemio Franchi stadium and the Brigadiers’ School of Castello.
On another (very exciting for us culture vultures!) note – from today marks the reopening of many museums/spaces in Florence.
People can now visit the Palazzo Vecchio, Santa Croce Church (free this June), Bardini museum, Novecento museum, and the Accademia Gallery, Bargello, Stibbert, Palazzo Davanzati and the Medici Chapels – make sure to make reservations in advance. Also returning is the Palazzo Strozzi’s current exhibiti
on Palazzo Strozzi, “Aria” by Tomás Saraceno. More details on opening hours can be found via The Florentine.
You can also head to the Società Toscana di Orticultura near Piazza Repubblica for their annual flower and plant exhibition which ends today. My pick, however, would be to head to the newly-reopened Manifattura di Tabacchi di Firenze and check out their new contemporary art exhibition “La meraviglia” featuring the works of six international artists.
If you want to read about the festa della repubblica also in Italian as a dual-language read – Italy Magazine has this great article here.
Also this thread on twitter provides an inside look at the history behind the forming of Italy’s republic
2 June is the "Festa della Repubblica" in Italy. On this day in 1946, a referendum was held to decide whether Italy should remain a monarchy or become a republic (photo, ballot paper). Concurrently, a Constituent Assembly was elected to write a new Constitution >> 1 pic.twitter.com/9VTLNEmpsv— Nicholas Whithorn (@NickWhithorn) June 2, 2020