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Marymount - International School Rome

Why does Italy celebrate Liberation Day on 25 April?

Italy marks 78th anniversary of Liberation in 2023.

Italy celebrates Liberation Day, known in Italian as Festa della Liberazione, with a national public holiday each year on 25 April.

In addition to the closure of schools, public offices and most shops, the day is marked with parades across the country, organised by ANPI, Italy's partisan association which preserves the memory of the Resistance movement against Fascism.

The occasion is held in commemoration of the end of the Fascist regime and of the Nazi occupation during world war two, as well as the victory of Italy's Resistance movement of partisans who opposed the regime.

Formed in 1943, the partigiani comprised a network of anti-Fascist activists, from diverse backgrounds including workers, farmers, students and intellectuals, across Italy.


Together they united in armed resistance against the Nazi occupation and the Fascist regime, making their struggle both a war of liberation and a civil war.

The annual event marks the day in 1945 when a nationwide radio broadcast calling for a popular uprising and general strike against the Nazi occupation and Fascist regime was announced by the National Liberation Committee of Upper Italy (CLNAI), a political umbrella organisation representing the Italian Resistance movement.

This announcement - made by partisan and future president of Italy Sandro Pertini - resulted in the capture and death of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, who was shot three days later.


The first uprising and liberation took place in Bologna on 21 April 1945, followed two days later by Genoa, then Milan on 25 April, and Turin and Venice on 28 April.

All of northern Italy was liberated by 1 May, with the advance of the Allied forces, leading the occupying German forces to surrender officially on 2 May.

The Festa della Liberazione represents a significant turning point in Italy's history, paving the way for the referendum of 2 June 1946 when Italians voted in favour of a republic and against the monarchy which had been discredited during the war and whose members went into exile.


Designated a national holiday in 1946, the Festa della Liberazione remains a divisive day in Italy, coming under attack each year from politicians on the right who refuse to celebrate the event.

Last December, two months after sweeping to victory with a right-wing coalition government, premier Giorgia Meloni confirmed to reporters that she would mark the 2023 edition of the event.

Meloni will attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Altare della Patria in Rome, on Tuesday at 09.00, alongside the president of Italy Sergio Mattarella. The senate speaker Ignazio La Russa and the president of the chamber of deputies Lorenzo Fontana will also attend.

Via Rasella

La Russa caused a political storm in March after he criticised the partisan attack in Rome that led to the Fosse Ardeatine massacre in which the Nazis murdered 335 anti-Fascist prisoners, Jews and civilians.

La Russa, a founding member of Meloni's right-wing Fratelli d'Italia party, described the attack on Via Rasella as "anything but noble," claiming that the 33 members of the SS Bozen Police Regiment killed by the partisans "were a musical band made up of semi-pensioners, not SS Nazis."

La Russa subsequently apologised for his words which ANPI president Gianfranco Pagliarulo said were "simply unworthy of the high office he holds and represent yet another very serious rift aimed at absolving Fascism and delegitimising the Resistance." 

Earlier this month, during a visit to the Vinitaly wine fair in Verona, Meloni brushed off La Russa's outburst as "a mistake of institutional grammar" before telling reporters that it "wasn't up to her" to ask ministers to commemorate the 25 April anniversary.

After the ceremony at the Altare della Patria on Tuesday morning, La Russa will fly to Prague where he will lay a wreath at the monument to Jan Palach, the Czech student who died after setting himself on fire in Wencelas Square in 1968 in protest against the Soviet occupation of his country.

La Russa's decision to spend the Festa della Liberazione in Prague was sharply criticised by ANPI president Pagliarulo who said that the holder of Italy's second-highest office had "364 other days of the year" to make the trip.

Meloni's letter

Meloni, who will visit the Mausoleum of the Fosse Ardeatine later on Tuesday morning, wrote a letter containing some significant reflections on the Festa della Liberazione, published in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Calling for the day to be a "celebration of freedom", Meloni wrote that "the fundamental result of 25 April was, and undoubtedly remains, the affirmation of democratic values, which Fascism had trampled on and which we find engraved in the republican Constitution."

Meloni said she hoped that her words would "contribute to making this anniversary a moment of rediscovered national harmony in which the celebration of our newfound freedom will help us understand and strengthen Italy's role in the world as an essential bulwark of democracy".

Bella Ciao

The annual event on 25 April is marked with the laying of wreaths at monuments and tombstones honouring the women and men who fought in the Resistance, and the singing of Bella Ciao, the anthem of the anti-Fascist resistance.

Last September, as a highly-charged election campaign neared its end, the Italian singer-songwriter Laura Pausini sparked controversy for refusing to sing Bella Ciao on Spanish television due to it being "too political".

Her decision was praised by Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing Lega party, who went on to become Italy's deputy premier after the election.

Salvini told reporters on Monday: “It's about time that some important dates such as 25 April and 1 May united and were not a reason for controversy, division."

Festa della Liberazione in Rome

This year Rome is celebrating the Italian Resistance with a three-day festival, backed by the city's centre-left mayor Roberto Gualtieri, from 23-25 April.

On the morning of 25 April, after attending ceremonies at the Altare della Patria and the Fosse Ardeatine Mausoleum, Gualtieri will visit the Historic Museum of the Liberation of Rome, a former SS prison which documents the persecution of Jews and Resistance figures tortured there during the Nazi occupation of the city.

State museums and archaeological sites in Rome and across Italy will be open for free on 25 April.

As the day falls on a Tuesday in 2023, many Italians have taken a "ponte" long weekend by taking Monday 24 April off work.

This article was first published on 23 April 2021, updated on 25 April 2023.

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