The 25 April in Italy is the Liberation Day. All over the country, we celebrate the anniversary of the liberation from the Nazi occupation and from the Fascist regime. This is a crucial day in the history of our country and it has great political and military relevance.
The date of 25 April 1945 will be forever remembered because it represents the end of the war lasted five years and of twenty years of tyranny. It is also the anniversary of the resistance, especially of the Partisans that fought against the Nazi and the Fascist regime of the Italian Social Republic.
A Brief History of 25 April
Who are The Partisans
Italian Partisan groups were born during the Second World War. Fascist Italy was in war beside the Nazis. But in 1943 Italy declared the unconditional surrender to the Allies (US, England, France, URSS). The Campaign of Liberation of Italy from the German forces began. So, Anti-fascists and soldiers of the ex Italian Royal Army created the first Partisan groups.
In the beginning, they consisted of only a few thousand people. But as time goes by, the Resistenza reinforced its ranks with workers, peasants, and draft dodgers of the Italian Social Republic. In the end, they counted more than three hundred thousand followers.
For two years, they opposed an armed resistance against the German invaders and a civil war against the Italian Fascists.
In the spring of 1945, Anglo American Troops broke the Gothic Line, a huge defensive wall that split Italy into two parts. This fortification crosses Central Italy from the town of La Spezia on the Tyrrhenian Sea to Rimini on the Adriatic Sea.
The news that Nazis were retreating and almost defeated gave more power to the Partisan and to the National Liberation Committee for Northern Italy (CLNAI).
Partisans had also an anthem during the years of resistance: “Bella Ciao“. This song of the Italian folklore was back in the spotlight thanks to the famous TV series “La Casa de Papel”, Money Heist in English. But it was already famous worldwide as the anti-fascist hymn, a symbol of the resistance, freedom. We are glad that thanks to TV show Bella Ciao could relive and intrigue someone to learn more about this page of history.
What happened the 25 April
On 25 April 1945, the CLNAI through the voice of his head, Mr. Sandro Pertini, made an important announcement via radio.
Cittadini, lavoratori! Sciopero generale contro l’occupazione tedesca, contro la guerra fascista, per la salvezza delle nostre terre, delle nostre case, delle nostre officine. Come a Genova e Torino, ponete i tedeschi di fronte al dilemma: arrendersi o perire!
Citizens, workers! General strike against the Nazi Occupation, against the Fascist war, for the safeness of our lands, of our houses, and of our shops. As in Genoa and Turin, face the Germans with a dilemma: surrender or die!Sandro Pertini, the head of Partisan Committee
They called for the strike in Milan and the general insurrection in all territories occupied by Nazis and Fascists. The Committee ordered all Partisan groups to attack german defenses forcing the capitulation. They didn’t even wait for the allied troops arrived days later.
From that moment, the CLNAI assumed the temporary leadership of the country in the name of the Italians. They also declared the sentence of death for all fascist leaders, including Benito Mussolini. The Dux tried to run away from Milan the night of the 25 but his escape ended two days later on the Como Lake. The day after he was shot with his lover Claretta.
Within the 1 May, all Northern Italy was released. On the 3 May, with the Surrender of Caserta, the German invasion finally ended. So did the Fascist regime lasted twenty years.
The 25 April was officially declared a national holiday in 1949. For us, this is a day of commemoration. We remember our compatriots that fought for the freedom and “sacrificed” their lives for the country. We do it visiting war memorials and all places symbol of the Resistance.
Events in Tuscany for the 25 April
Usually, on the 25 April, Italians take advantage of the public holiday organizing small activities or short breaks. They go visiting the main cities or exploring the countryside. If the weather is good they reach the coastal area enjoying the sun and fresh air.
In Tuscany, days before and after Italy’s Liberation Day are plenty of special events and things to do.
This difficult 2020, unfortunately, WE MUST STAY HOME. There won’t be any public celebrations. Read a book or watch a movie about Liberation could be a good idea to spend the day.
However, I collected a few things you usually could do in Tuscany for Italy’s Liberation Day.
The Freedom National Park of Sant’Anna di Stazzema
There is a special place in Tuscany, where Italians commemorate the fallen during the war. This is the mountain village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema.
The little village is located in the Apuan Alps, the mountains in northern Tuscany. During the war, the Germans build a huge defensive wall that split Italy into two parts. Its name was Gothic Line and crossed exactly those mountains nearby Sant’Anna.
Here, the 12 August 1944, the Nazi Schutzstaffel killed in cold blood in only three hours 560 people. Most of them were women, children, and old men. Today, a park and a war memorial keep the memory of this cruel massacre alive.
The International Handicrafts Trade Show in Florence
Since 1931 the Fortezza da Basso of Florence has been hosting the International Handicrafts Fair. The best of Italian craftsmen and of over fifty countries from all over the world gathered in the same place. Moreover, visitors find workshops, cooking shows, events for adults and children.
Barrels Race and Spring Fair in Suvereto
Suvereto on the Etruscan Coast is considered one of the most beautiful villages of Tuscany. If you happen to go and see people pushing a barrel along the street do not worry. They are participants of the Palio of Barrels doing some exercise before the challenge. On days of spring fair, the center hosts food courts, the market of flowers, and local products. Including the saffron that is the guest of honor of the fair. On the day of the race, after an exhibition of the flag-wavers, there is the Palio of Barrels. It is so important that teams come from all the regions of Italy.
Fair of Maremma
The Festival of Maremma takes place in Albinia in the area of Argentario Promontory, southern Tuscany. The main attraction of the program is the exhibition of the Butteri, the Italian’s cowboys.
Festa della Stagion Bona (Feast of Good Season), Panzano in Chianti
On the 25 April, in Panzano in Chianti the Festa Della Stagion Bona takes place. There are food stands selling dishes of the Tuscan tradition. Wisteria pancakes, ficattole (aka Sgabei) filled with cold cuts or Nutella, porchetta, and ribollita soup. There is also a historical procession. Then, music, kids entertainment, and fireworks.
Pistoia, Piazza della Resistenza
The town of Pistoia remembers people dead in the war with many events. A music band concert takes place in Piazza del Duomo, and street food trucks in the Porta al Borgo.
Ceremony for the Italian Resistance Day and Gardens in bloom in Florence
In Florence, celebrations take place in Piazza Santa Croce with the deposition of a garland to the deaths in war. Local authorities, Freedom Tuscan Committee, and Partisans participate in the commemorations. To follow, suffrage prayers, and a procession to reach Piazza Della Signoria for an official ceremony at Palazzo Vecchio. Here, a Philarmonic usually plays the national anthem Fratelli d’Italia.
Once in Florence, visit the “Gardens of Villa Bardini” to admire amazing Wisteria in bloom. Or the “Garden of Iris” that open only a few days per year in April and May when Iris bloom.
Spino Fiorito in Massa
Every two years, the medieval castle of Malaspina Family in Massa comes back to life. Thanks to the Spino Fiorito Festival. During these days visitors can visit the ancient manor, taste delicious food and wine, and beer from local producers.
(Update on April 23rd 2020)