June 2, Republic Day in Italy

Festa della Repubblica (Festival of the Republic) is a national holiday celebrated in Italy on June 2 each year. It celebrates the day when Italians voted to abolish the monarchy in 1946 so their country could become a republic.

The day commemorates the institutional referendum in 1946, in which the Italian people were called to the polls to decide on the form of government, following WWII and the fall of Fascism.  With 12,717,923 votes for a republic and 10,719,284 for the monarchy, the male descendants of the House of Savoy were sent into exile and Italy became a republic.



Each year, a wreath is laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Republic Day. The tomb has an eternal flame that was added on November 4, 1921, even thought the tomb, which was designed by sculptor Alberto Sparapani, was not completed until 1924.



To recognize this holiday, official ceremonies are held, as well as military parades, and the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, inside the Altare della Patria in Rome.



The Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II) or Il Vittoriano, is a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy, located in Rome. The monument occupies a site between Piazza Venezia and the Capitoline Hill.


Republic Day is a federal holiday in Italy and organizations and businesses that close include government offices, post offices, banks, schools and other educational institutions.




Unpredictable Florentine weather


We all grew up saying that “April showers bring May flowers.”  And they do!

But, this year it is raining well into May as well.  The weather has been very unsettled. Cold and raining one day, warm and clear the next.  However, I am not complaining.  The hot summer temperatures can wait as long as possible to arrive.  When they hit, they are not unsettled in the valley that surrounds lovely Firenze.  They arrive and stay, well past their welcome.

But, all this rain has the fields and hills around Florence alive with flowers!  Yes, we do have flowers!  Bright red poppies are everywhere, they grow wild and are a welcome sign that the fields are not being sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. On the train from Rome to Florence, this view below is a constant right now.


The grape vines are looking incredible, maybe this will be a great year for wine production.

However, the olive oil forecast is not as great. Local olive oil makers are already are warning that it looks like there will be little no oil this year.  The olive trees should already be blossoming and they aren’t.



Maybe it will just be a late harvest.  Olive harvest in the past was done in late November and through December. But, recently, due to the changes in the weather conditions, harvest now happens earlier.

Last weekend, was another religious holiday in Tuscany. It was Ascension Sunday which falls 43 days after Easter is often celebrated with flowers. Some towns decorate streets with designs created with petals, and others have large celebrations where you can buy lovely plants.  Plus, great food and drink accompanies any holiday!

If you want to learn more about this moveable feast, then here you go:

The Ascension of Our Lord, which celebrates the day on which the risen Christ, in the sight of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven (Luke 24:51; Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9-11), is a moveable feast. When is Ascension?

How Is the Date of Ascension Determined?

Like the dates of most other moveable feasts, the date of the Ascension depends on the date of Easter. Ascension Thursday always falls 40 days after Easter (counting both Easter and Ascension Thursday), but since the date of Easter changes every year, the date of Ascension does as well.

Ascension Thursday Versus Ascension Sunday

Determining the date of Ascension is also complicated by the fact that, in many dioceses the celebration of Ascension has been transferred from Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter) to the following Sunday (43 days after Easter).

Since Ascension is a Holy Day of Obligation, it is important for Catholics to know on which date Ascension will be celebrated in their particular diocese.

(See Is Ascension a Holy Day of Obligation? to find out which ecclesiastical provinces continue to celebrate Ascension on Ascension Thursday, and which have transferred the celebration to the following Sunday.)







Capodanno a Firenze

Last night there were fireworks in Florence.  Something was definitely up!


And that’s because today, March 25, is the date marking the beginning of the new year according to Florentine tradition. The city commemorates the occasion with a major parade which begins at the Palazzo Vecchio and makes a pilgrimage to the Santissima Annunziata. That church is important because of it houses a medieval fresco of  the Annunciation, which is believed (by some people at least!) to have been partially painted by angels.

The fresco and the church of Santissima Annunziata (the Most Holy Annunciation) has always been the centerpiece of the Florence’s New Year festivities in late March. The fresco can still be viewed on the inner wall to the left of the entrance.


The story goes that the artist commissioned to paint the Annunciation fell asleep after completing all but the face of the Virgin Mary. Upon his awakening, he found a completed, beautiful blonde Madonna – angelic masters had finished the fresco for him.

From 1250 to 1750, the people of Florence gathered in the church of SS Annunziata to welcome the arrival of spring and to officially celebrate the Annunciation, or the moment   when the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be the mother of Christ. March 25 of course is exactly 9 months before Christmas, when the Christ child was born.


In order to celebrate the event, the municipality of Firenze organizes a parade with traditional costumes, music and flag-wavers. The historical procession (called the corteo storico) of the Florentine Republic,  starts around 2:45 pm at the palace of the Palagio di Parte Guelfa, heading toward the Basilica SS. Annunziata.


Florentines were so devoted to the Madonna that until 1750, they refused to accept the Gregorian calendar year that begins on January 1. This devotion remains a part of the culture and was celebrated again today.