‘Celebrating the unity of Italy is not a waste of time, and organizing the festivities is not a waste of public funds,' said president of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, after members of the Northern League (NL) said they might not participate in celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of unified Italy.
The anniversary event already promises to be mired in controversy. In early May, NL leader Umberto Bossi told the press that he found the celebrations to be ‘useless and a bit rhetorical; I don't know if I will attend, I haven't decided yet.' NL members say that their current priority is instituting fiscal federalism; until that happens, they say, they cannot concentrate on celebrations.
Regardless of their political ideology, most non-NL politicians continue to support the importance of celebrations to mark the 150th year anniversary of the unified Italian state. The festivities will likely be located in Turin, which was the first capital of unified Italy.
In April, former president of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, now a life senator, resigned from the Unity of Italy commission and his role as its president. Citing his age, Ciampi said that he no longer had the ‘energy' to carry out his duty on the commission: ‘I've been experiencing a significant lack of energy, which translated into a sense of tiredness, both physically and psychologically,' he wrote in a letter to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Although Berlusconi urged Ciampi to reconsider, the former leader confirmed his decision to resign.
In the meantime, 130 Italian cities are vying for 22 spots on the anniversary edition of Monopoly, the famed board game, being prepared in honour of the unity of Italy, due on the market next year. The cities are lobbying hard for the popular vote on www.monopolyitalia.it, which invites vote until July 28, 2010. The cities identified by Monopoly Italy include Tuscany's Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio, which already have fan pages on Facebook.