June 2nd, Festa della Repubblica (Day of the Republic)

The 2nd and 3rd of June, 1946, just two months from the end of World War 2, Italians chose with a constitutional referendum to remove the monarchy and to make their country a republic. The royal Savoia family was exiled, and a nation was born.

Today the second day of June is a bank holiday technically equivalent to the 4th of July for United States citizens, but not particularly celebrated by most Italians. In fact, besides having all business halt to a standstill, the most notable event in the day is a military parade in Roma – before the highest politicians and ending with a brief memorial service for the Unknown Soldier. If you are so inclined, the best way to watch it is not in person – as the parade route is incredibly crowded – but on television. One spectacular part of the parade, however, is the air show put on by the Frecce Tricolori (literally: ‘the three-colored arrows’), which is often considered the best acrobatic flight team in the world. Their breathtaking maneuvers include very low crisscrossing flights and end with an iconic three-colored smoke trail painting the national flag in the (usually blue) sky.

In the same year, Italy achieved another milestone: for the first time, exactly on March 10, 1946, Italian women abandoned for a few hours their households and lined up in front of the polling stations in a nation still partly destroyed by the war. This achievement came after years of battles and much later than women in Europe and US.