March 17 is Italy's official National Unity Day in 2011, marking the day Victor Emanuel II was declared king of Italy by the newly constituted national parliament in 1861. With the exception of shops in many of Italy's cities, businesses and schools will be closed. Italy and its people, whether living in Italy or elsewhere around the world, will celebrate 150 years of Italian unification.
Despite the controversy around creating a national holiday (see TF 137), celebratory events abound from Italy's north to south.
On March 17, president of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, will lead a ceremony in the Pantheon to commemorate to the monarchs of Italy who are buried there, among them Victor Emmanuel II, Umberto I and his wife, Queen Margherita. He will also acknowledge the role of Italy's former monarchy in the unification of the country.
Major cities are holding a Notte Tricolore, an all-night party to celebrate Italian unification.
Turin, Italy's first capital city in 1861, leads festivities in the north with a major event spanning the next nine months, Esperienza Italia. Two important venues in the Piedmont capital, the Officine Grandi Riparazioni and Venaria Reale, will feature concerts and performances, conferences and seminars, art and historical exhibitions focused on the unification process in Italy and how the Italian identity was created. For more information, see http://eng.italia150.it.
Reggio Emilia celebrates Italian unity with an open-air exhibition focused on Italy's national flag. Until June 2, the six-kilometre exhibit through the streets of Reggio, where one of Italy's first Tricolore flags was flown on January 7, 1797 by leaders of the Cispane Republic (the state formed in December 1796 by Napoleon Bonaparte by merging the duchies of Reggio and Modena and the legate states of Bologna and Ferrara), will showcase 150 of Italy's most important national flags.
For a full calendar of events throughout Italy in 2011, see www.italiaunita150.it and www.italia.it. Until April 21, those with smartphones can download free 150 Italiamobile, the official application on the history, people, itineraries and events celebrating Italian unity.