Monday, April 25, 2011

Festa Della Liberazione- Liberation Day

So, it’s a beautiful Monday afternoon and a holiday in Italy. Since I had nothing to do I thought I would take a nice walk from our apartment to the city center and enjoy the afternoon at the Duomo. Since it was a holiday and none of the shops were open, I figured it would be a pretty peaceful walk downtown and back. Once I got down to Porto Venezia (a large intersection about halfway to downtown) there was a lot of foot traffic and local police officers directing traffic. This is definitely not normal, so I was curious what was going on. A couple blocks closer to the city center, the street was completely blocked off to street traffic and it looked like there were some street vendors selling t-shirts and food. I was thinking that it could be some sort of celebration or street fair? Talk about a bad day to leave the camera at home…

After walking a few more blocks there were more people, and demonstrations happening, peace flags, and red flags with the hammer and sickle. As I looked around I noticed quite a diverse crowd of people. I felt like I was back in Northern California and all of the hippies had come out of hiding!! If you ever wondered if hippies existed in Milan… well they do!! Seeing the communist flag being flown made me very uneasy… but it seemed like a peaceful demonstration, so I kept walking. A few more blocks down and the sidewalks were completely packed, the street was
full of demonstrators, and all of a sudden there were about 20 Carabinieri lining the street decked out in SWAT gear. It looked like they were ready for a riot to break out, carrying shields, wearing masks and everything else that applies! That completely freaked me out, so I took a side street back to the park and made my way home. I did not want to be in a place with so many people if riots were expected!! No thank you.

After getting home and doing a little research, I learned that the reason today is a holiday is because it commemorates the end of WWII in Italy. On April 25th, 1945, the Mussolini regime was overthrown, and the German-Fascist control of Italy ended. I found a great quote on
April the 25th “commemorates the liberation of Italy by Allied troops in the Second World War. The holiday is meant to honor all those who died during the war, from soldiers fighting overseas to civilian victims of Allied bombings and atrocities committed during Nazi Germany’s bitter retreat from its former ally’s territory. The lives of those who served as partisans in the Italian Resistance are especially honored.”

The reason people were demonstrating was a celebration! It was a celebration of the end of the Nazi’s occupying Italy. After doing more research I feel better about the meaning of the holiday, but not about that crowd that was moving towards downtown. I’m guessing the Carabinieri were only there as a precaution since so many people were expected. All in all, I learned a little more about Italian culture today. I’m just upset I forgot my camera!! Seriously great people watching today J

1 comment:

  1. I found your Blog site and added it to our favorites. Quite the interesting experience of seeing a demonstration. The mix of people in Italy are different from Minnesota or Iowa. Seeing the old USSR communist flag could be scary depending on the motives behind it. They were a part of WWII history.