Rome Republic Day, or la Festa della Repubblica, celebrates the birth of a nation. It commemorates the outcome of the institutional referendum of 1946, when Italy’s population had to make a choice for their future. Given the fall of Fascism and the end of the World War II, Italians decided to opt for a republic over a monarchy, after 85 years upholding the latter system.
Held on the 2nd of June every year, it’s one of the country’s most important holidays; up there with the 4th of July in the US, and the 14th of July in France. Today, Rome Republic Day is celebrated with an enormous military parade, which takes place on the Via dei Fori Imperiali. Here, you can watch the Italian equivalent of the Red Arrows flying the Italian flag’s colours across the sky: it’s magnificent.
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Rome Republic Day: morning events
Rome Republic Day: morning events On the morning of Rome Republic Day, the president - Giorgio Napolitano - presides over a traditional wreath laying ceremony. This takes place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Piazza Venezia, on the Vittoriano monument. Afterwards, a military parade is carried out along the Via dei Fori Imperiali - the road connecting the piazza to the Colosseum - where those famous ‘Frecce Tricolori’ can be seen. The Italian air force equivalent to the RAF fly an impressive trail of green, white and red smoke across the sky. Proceedings kick off at around 11AM, and last for just under two hours: be prepared for the bustle!
Rome Republic Day: afternoon and evening events
In the afternoon, Quirinale Palace - the official residence of the president - also opens its gardens to the public from 3pm. Here, you can see various performances by a number of military bands. Concerts are performed by the Italian Navy, Army, Air Force and State Police amongst others, making for a highly evocative show which proves particularly popular with locals. Of course, if you manage to make it to the palace the day before, you can also see the solemn ‘Changing of the Guard’ at 3:30: it’s worth the stroll.
Rome Republic Day: travel
On this most important of holidays, it will be impossible to drive within the city. Even bus routes are likely to be altered, so ensure you book central accommodation if you want to join in on the action. With an apartment in the centre of the capital, you’ll have no problem walking with the masses to the parade on the Via dei Fori Imperiali; if you’re staying a little farther away than you’d like, however, the metro’s the best way to travel.
Rome Republic Day: general tips
On the day itself, many alterations will take place throughout the city. Ensure you have some cash, as some of the banks may not be in order, and check in advance which restaurants, bars and cafes will remain open. The museums in Vatican City will only open in the evening, and the Colosseum and Roman Forum will only open from 1:30 onwards. Most other attractions will be running as usual, however, but if you’ve had enough of the bustle, here’s an insider’s tip: make a trip to the Spanish Steps on Trinità dei Monti. Here, you can see over 700 azalea plants in bloom, lending to the site’s reputation as ‘the most beautiful staircase in the world’.