Anniversaries in Italian History: Dates Every Curious Traveler to Italy Should Know

Via XX Settembre in Genova

Via XX Settembre in Genova

This month, the women of the Italy Blogging Roundtable – Jessica, Rebecca, Gloria, Alexandra, and I – celebrate the one-year anniversary of our blogging experiment. This roundtable started on a whim thanks to an idea from Jessica, who thought it’d be fun to see what happens when five Italy-loving bloggers wrote a post each month on the same topic. Indeed, it has been fun as well as an eye-opening experience to see how each of us approach the topic.

Our posts have covered the following topics (click through and you will find links to the other bloggers’ posts):

May 2011: Why I Write About Italy
June 2011: Driving
July 2011: Favorite Art in Italy
August 2011: vacation month, just like the Italians!
September 2011: “Back to School” or “What Italy Has Taught Me”
October 2011: Fall
November 2011: Comfort Food
December 2011: Gifts
January 2012: Crafts
February 2012: The Elements
March 2012: Roots
April 2012: Invitations
May 2012: Anniversaries (the post you’re reading now!)

For obvious reasons, the five of us chose the topic “anniversaries” for May. And, as a gift to ourselves this month, we asked our readers to submit their own posts based on the topics we’ve already covered. You can read a great selection reader posts from Alexandra’s Roundtable round-up.

While weddings and births initially came to mind as I was brainstorming this subject, I decided to tackle the topic of Italian anniversaries in history. Walking down a street in Rome or Genova or Trieste, you may notice that the street sign is named after the date XX Settembre (the 20th of September). Likewise, the date IV Novembre, November 4th, pops up as the name of piazze in Ancona (Le Marche), Todi (Umbria), and numerous other cities and villages across Italy. What’s the deal with these dates? Here’s a short primer on a few of the dates you will encounter while meandering around the streets and squares of Italy.

XXV Aprile – April 25, 1945, marks the day on which the Nazi occupiers of northern Italy surrendered and the Fascist puppet government of Benito Mussolini dissolves. Italians celebrate this date as Liberation Day and a number of streets and squares, particularly ones in northern Italy (e.g., Milan and Ferrara) are named Via XXV Aprile. Liberation is a public holiday in Italy.

II Giugno – June 2, 1946, is celebrated throughout Italy as Republic Day, as it is the day on which Italians, in a constitutional referendum, decided that Italy should become a republic rather than continue as a monarchy. This map shows which regions voted for the republic and which voted for the monarchy, and the divisions pro and con are quite clear across geographic lines (the north was mostly pro-republic, the south mostly pro-monarchy). Republic Day is a public holiday in Italy.

XX Settembre – This date is referenced widely on street and piazza names in Italy as it honors September 20, 1870, the date on which Rome was finally captured, the last event in the long process of Italian unification known as the Risorgimento. Following unification, local governments began renaming streets after this momentous event. In many cases, the former street names referred to popes. For example, the boulevard Via XX Settembre in Rome was once called Via Pia while Via Giulia in Genova was renamed to Via XX Settembre. It is common to call a street named after this date Via Venti.

IV Novembre – November 4 is a slightly more obscure date in Italian history, but there are a number of Piazza IV Novembre in Italy. Piazza IV Novembre is the heart of the Umbrian town of Perugia, for example. On November 4, 1918, an entente between Italy and the Austria-Hungary empire went into effect, thereby ending the Italian campaign of World War I.

Read the posts, leave comments, share them with your friends – and tune in next month for another Italy Blogging Roundtable topic.

Photo © Flickr user cebete

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