Crowds celebrate Liberation Day across Italy
ROME - Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate the anniversary of the fall of fascism in cities across Italy.
April 25, known as Liberation Day, marked the end of Nazi occupation in Italy in 1945 at the end of World War II, and the victory of resistance forces.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella led celebrations nationwide, appearing at the Altar of the Fatherland in Rome, a tribute to the unification of Italy, before he travelled to Vittorio Veneto to commemorate the occasion.
“[These past events] teach us that nowadays as back then, there is a need for free and proud men and women to not bow down to those who, through violence, terrorism, and religious fanaticism, want us to return to the dark ages, want to impose a future of subjugation, terror and hatred.”
“History has taught us that when people trade their freedom for promises of order and protection, events always take a tragic and destructive turn for the worse,” he added, encouraging Italians to uphold the values which Italy’s unification championed.
Festivities were most acutely felt in Milan, where an estimated 70,000 people marched down corso Venezia towards the city’s Duomo.
Nicola Zingaretti, the Partito Democratico’s (PD) secretary, was in attendance and praised “the squares full of Italians who defend freedom and democracy.”
Milan’s Mayor Giuseppe Sala echoed these words, before going on to criticise the League’s Matteo Salvini, who was not present alongside his PD counterpart.
Thousands in Rome also celebrated at Porta San Paolo to the south of the city, led by the Italian National Partisan Association.
Rome’s Mayor Virginia Raggi was amongst speakers at the event, and response to her presence was mixed given recent financial scandals that have threatened to cut short her term in office.
Raggi acknowledged the opposition, but was not discouraged, saying: “Happy April 25 to all. [Those who died] gave their lives so that we could express our ideas, as some of you are doing.”