Never one to need an excuse to celebrate my Italian heritage, or ‘amp up’ my inner-wog, the end of May in Brisbane marks a significant celebration of all things Italy with the annual Italian Week festival. The celebrations coincide with the Italian national holiday ‘Festa della Repubblica’, so what better opportunity for this alimenti e appasionato di viaggi to feature some of the best Italy has to offer.
Italy’s Festa della Repubblica (literally translated as ‘Festival of the Republic’) is celebrated each year across Italy on the second day of June. It commemorates the institutional referendum in 1946 where the Italian people were called to the polls to decide on the form of government they wished to have following World War II and the fall of Fascism. With almost 13 million votes for a republic (roughly 2 million more than for a monarchy) the male descendents of the Casa Savoia were sent into exile after 85 years of reign.
In Rome, the President of the Republic will preside over a grand military parade with all armed forces, police forces, the fire brigade, the Italian Red Cross, as well as military representatives of NATO and the European Union taking part to commemorate the occasion. The Prime Minister and other public figures are also in attendance on what is proclaimed to be a national day of unity. The President’s official residence, the Palazzo del Quirinale, is opened to the public and concerts are performed in the gardens.
Built in the late 1500s as the summer residence of Pope Gregory XIII, the Palazzo del Quirinale overlooks Rome. It became the residence of the Savoys in 1870, with Pope Pius XI being the last pope to live there. In 1947, the palazzo became the residence of the President of the Republic along with the relating apartments and offices. The palazzo has many collections of all kinds of art (paintings, statues, tapestries, clocks, furniture etc. as well as beautiful Murano glass chandeliers), but most notable is the fresco by Melozzo da Forli which is visible to visitors as they depart the palazzo and serves as a reminder that they have received the Papal blessing. The garden is another famed feature of the palazzo for its ever-changing layout and outlook over Rome.
If you happen to be in Brisbane during Italian Week there are a number of events, some of which are free, to take part in. One of my favourites for the last couple of years has been the ‘Illumination’. The Illumination occurs every evening from 5:30pm during Italian Week, and sees the Treasury Casino and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre lit up in green, white and red; the colours of the Italian flag. This beautiful light display is a constant reminder that Italian Week is upon us and is a tribute to the Italian celebration of the Festa della Repubblica.
Vieni, celebrare con me!