Important Dates in Italian History for the Curious Traveler

Piazza XX Settembre in Genoa
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Walking down a street in Rome or Genoa 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 the streets and squares of Italy. Note that in most cases, these important dates are displayed with Roman numerals when used in the names of streets or squares.

Four Important Dates in Italian History Every Curious Traveler Should Know

XXV Aprile (25 Aprile)

April 25, 1945, marks the day on which the Nazi occupiers of northern Italy surrendered and the Fascist puppet government of Benito Mussolini dissolved. 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 Day is a public holiday in Italy.

II Giugno (2 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 (20 Settembre)

Piazza XX Settembre in Genoa
Via XX Settembre in Genoa (Genova) begins just behind the central fountain in Piazza de Ferrari

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, thereby decreeing the end of the Papal States. It was 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 Genoa was renamed to Via XX Settembre. It is common to call a street named after this date Via Venti.

September 20 was a holiday in Italy until 1930, when it was abolished following the signing of the Lateran Treaty between the Kingdom of Italy and the Vatican.

IV Novembre (4 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.

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.

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

The five of us chose the topic “anniversaries” for May to celebrate our first year of blogging together. 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.

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

Photo © Flickr user cebete

Last updated on September 18th, 2023

Post first published on May 9, 2012

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