Italy marks 100 years of Unknown Soldier with Rome ceremony

Frecce Tricolori will fly over Altare della Patria on 4 November amid a poignant anniversary for Italy.

Italy's president Sergio Mattarella will attend the annual ceremony to mark National Unity and Armed Forces Day at Rome’s Altare della Patria at 10.00 on 4 November.

Accompanied by defence minister Lorenzo Guerini and top military authorities, the head of state will lay a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or il Milite Ignoto, a century after he was buried there in honour of Italy’s war dead.

There will be a flypast by the air force’s Frecce Tricolori aerial acrobatic team whose jets will emit plumes of the three colours from the Italian flag. 

A military parade is also expected, leading to street closures and bus diversions in the area around Piazza Venezia.

Story of Italy's Unknown Soldier

The body of Italy's Unknown Soldier was chosen from among 11 coffins containing the unidentified remains of fallen Italian world war one soldiers, retrieved from various areas of the front.

Maria Bergamas selected the Unknown Soldier 100 years ago.

Maria Bergamas, the mother of Italian soldier Antonio Bergamas whose body was never recovered, made the difficult choice in the Basilica of Aquileia, near the Isonzo battefields, on 28 October 1921.

When the grieving mother reached the 10th coffin in the line, she slumped to the floor and screamed her son's name. This was the body chosen.

The casket containing the Unknown Solider then made a slow journey from Aquileia to Rome, with crowds amassing at each station to pay their respects.

The Milite Ignoto was buried on 4 November 1921 at the Altare della Patria during a solemn ceremony attended by King Victor Emmanuel III as well as veterans and war widows.

The train of the Unknown Soldier can be seen at Stazione S. Pietro in Rome this week.

This week a steam train retraced the historic journey from Aquileia to Rome where it can be seen, at Stazione S. Pietro, until 8 November.

The date of the annual military ceremony, 4 November, coincides with the anniversary of the armistice of Villa Giusti in 1918, which ended world war one on the Italian front.