Each year, Italians have eleven giorni festivi (non-working days), not including Easter, which always falls on Sunday. They all have exact dates, except Easter Monday. Spring—May and June especially—is rich with holidays. Let’s read about the spring holidays in detail:
- 25 aprile is Festa della Liberazione (Liberation Day) when Italians celebrate the victory of the Italian resistance against Nazi Germany and the Italian Social Republic, which was controlled by the Nazis. The war in Italy continued for another few weeks after this date in the spring of 1945, but April 25 was chosen to commemorate those tragic yet heroic times. Today, on 25 aprile, the Presidente della Repubblica pays tribute to the fallen and missing of WWII in Roma, at the Milite Ignoto (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier). In addition, virtually every Italian city holds parades and concerts.
- 1° maggio is Festa dei Lavoratori (International Workers’ Day) when Italians, along with many others, honor laborers and their fights. Since 1990, along with concerts, events, and BBQs throughout the country, the three main Italian unions organize a concert—the legendary concertone—in the piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome.
- 2 giugno is Festa della Repubblica Italiana (Italian National and Republic Day). On this day, the Presidente della Repubblica lays a laurel wreath at the feet of the Unknown Soldier, and a military parade follows, culminating with the spectacular, colorful, and noisy flyover over the Altare della Patria by Frecce Tricolori, the Italian acrobatic Air Force.
These are only three of the non-working days, but there’s much more to this season. First, this trio comes soon after Easter, which includes Monday Easter and often a few extra days off (consider that schools have a six-day break for the occasion). Secondly, it’s spring, a magical season in which you can still ski in Northern Italy—granted, with the occasional help of artificial snow—and take a swim in Sicily, and everything in between, including gorgeous hikes, and visits to historical sites before the crazy summer temperatures. Finally, spring ushers in the the wonderful season of ponti! Ponte means bridge, which in this case refers to long, three- to four-day weekends where the official festivity comes on Thursday or Tuesday, but you also take Friday or Monday off, respectively. Holidays in May and June are perfect to fare il ponte. Under some very lucky circumstances, with few additional days off, you’ll be able to join Liberation Day with International Workers’ Day, and voilà: a week-long vacation. In addition, Republic Day normally kicks off the summer break for Italians students aged 6 to 18, and that is a long—precisely three months long—story. Well, all we have left to learn at this point is: buone vacanze!
By Claudia Quesito