On May 31, 2016 the San Francisco Bay Area’s Italian community celebrated Italy’s Republic Day with an elegant event at San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club. The event’s host was our very own San Francisco Italian Consul General, Mauro Battocchi, who describes this day as follows: “It is the most important event of the Italian community here in the Bay Area along with the Italian Heritage Parade in October”.
Italy’s Republic Day, also known as Festa della Repubblica (Festival of the Republic), is a national holiday celebrated on June 2 each year. The celebration is to honor the day Italians voted to abolish the monarchy in 1946. It is considered the Italian version of the American Fourth of July. This is one of the most important Italian national holidays which, like Independence Day in the U.S., celebrates the birth of the nation.
Italy’s Republic Day commemorates the institutional referendum of 1946 when the Italian population was called to decide what form of government (monarchy or republic) to give to the country after the Second World War and the fall of Fascism. After 85 years of monarchy, with 12,717,923 votes for and 10,719,284 votes against, Italy became a Republic, and the monarchs of the House of Savoy were deposed and exiled. Celebratory events in Italy include official ceremonies, military parades and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, inside the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) in Rome.
In San Francisco, Italy’s Republic Day certainly was commemorated in high style with attendees numbering in the hundreds all enjoying the festivities and speakers that included representatives from society, culture, government and business. Attending were many representatives from the Italian community. Dignitaries included Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Italian Olympic Gold Medalist Dorina Vaccaroni and Italian Tenor Pasquale Esposito.
With great pride, the singing of both the Italian and American national anthems, Il Canto degli Italiani (The Chant of the Italians) and the Star Star-Spangled Banner drew enthusiastic applause.
Consul General Battocchi announced, “This year we have a special sponsor, one of our best IT companies, Expert System. It’s a public company listed in Milan that has expanded all over Europe with a series of M&A operations and now is also here in Silicon Valley. They have a proprietary cognitive computing capability based on Artificial Intelligence algorithms that mimic the human capacity for reading and understanding.” Expert Systems was represented by CEO, Stefano Spaggiari, and EVP of Corporate Development, Luigi Paraboschi. They drew an interested crowd with an informational demonstration of Expert Systems’ technological advancements.
Consul General Battocchi shared a positive outlook for Italy’s future. “Under new leadership Italy is really changing the face of the country. So many wonderful reforms are being implemented. Apple, Cisco and IBM have decided to invest in Italy because the business environment has so strongly improved. Wonderful news is that Italy has been chosen to host the 2017 G7 Summit.” The Group of 7 (G7) is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries are the seven major advanced economies as reported by the International Monetary Fund.
After his opening remarks, the Consul General introduced Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. She mentioned how years ago many times people would refer to Italy fondly as “the old country”. Now, for the reasons mentioned by the Consul General, she said Italy can be referred to as “the new country”. “We can be so proud of our culture that we carry within us, Italian or not. God Bless America. Viva Italia”.
In closing, Consul General Battocchi stated “Above all, the word about the Italian community in the Bay Area is the word “pride”. Italians have made this city from the very beginning with the Genovese and the Lucchese. They came with the Gold Miners. We have seen the community grow, blossom and flourish with so many allies and Italophiles. Brava Italia! 2016 marks the 70th anniversary of the Italian Republic. At 70, Italy is doing great!”
Republic Day is a day that marks a time of patriotic spirit as the citizens of Italy show their great pride in the nation. The public chooses this day to eat, drink, and be merry with gusto as they recognize their freedom from a dark time in their history. Republic Day is a glorious time and indeed it was at the St. Francis Yacht Club on May 31, 2016.