Italy Celebrates Liberation Day on April 25th–‘la Festa della Liberazione”

Italian Resistance Fighters 1945
Italian Resistance Fighters 1945

“…this is the flower of the Partisan who died for our freedom.”   from Bella Ciao

Many of the elderly citizens of Italy still remember the American soldiers who marched into villages from over the mountains and handed out chocolate to the children. They will never forget life under Benito Mussolini’s fascist puppet regime and the German Nazi’s. A childs rhyme still plays through their minds, lamenting the days without bread and nights without light.

Armed Partixans of the Emilia Romagna
Armed Freedom Fighters of the Emilia Romagna

Liberation Day in Italy honors Italian resistance, those who fought the fascist regime, but also protests the tyranny and oppression throughout the world through speeches and political rallies. It is a national holiday celebrated all across Italy that marks the fall of Mussolini’s Italian social Republic and the end of the Nazi occupation in Italy in 1945, towards the end of the second World War. Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party from 1922 to 1943, continuing to lead the Italian Social Republic in parts of Italy that were not occupied by Allied forces from 1943 to 1945.

Italian Partisans greet the Allied Troops
Italian Partisans (Freedom Fighters) greet the Allied troops as they enter a Florence suburb south of the Arno

The Italian resistance was composed of independent soldiers who had once been members of Italy’s many political parties, along with more than 35,000 women. The resistance fought fiercely in every Italian city, but the biggest loss took place in the industrial city of Torino. Many of the workers in the factories, the center of Italy’s car making industry, and other establishments around the city refused to comply with the German military forces. As a result, 7,000 workers perished under harsh labor conditions or in gas chambers after being shipped off to concentration camps.

Women Italian Partisans Patrol the streets of Milan
Italian women Freedom Fighters patrol the streets of Milan

Italy won their independence and have remained a democratic republic since 1946.

Today, Rome’s president will make his annual visit to the Ardeatine Caves mausoleum, where 335 Romans were killed by Nazis in 1944.

Ardeatine Caves in Rome
Ardeatine Caves Mausoleum in Rome

Festivities will take place in every Italian city. Bands and parades in almost every town will be playing “Bella Ciao,” the anthem of the Italian resistance movement during World War II, often sung by the left-wing antifascist rebels who fought against the atrocities of the Nazis and the leader of Italy, Benito Mussolini. Today, the lyrics are symbolic of the sacrifices made for freedom.

Watch and Listen to the following video:

Bella Ciao YouTube Video

Airplanes overhead celebrate Liberation Day
Airplanes overhead celebrate Liberation Day


Exotic Castle Dining Above The Mediterranean

Oh, for the Glory of Fresh Caught Seafood on top of a Castle overlooking the Sparkling Mediterranean.

Cinque Terre, five small fishing villages backed against the vine covered Ligurian hills on the Mediterranean, is famous for its hiking trails and quaint harbors. On vacation last September, my husband Carl and I discovered this coastline of fishing villages and exuberantly explored the abundance they have to offer.  These villages were once only accessible by sea, and still no road connects them. Now they can be reached by train from La Spezia, which runs daily.

Our cuisine delight was at the Ristorante al Castello perched high above the village of Vernazza.

But first, a little history…

High atop the village of Vernazza sits the remains of an ancient castle tower. Like a beacon, this tower has stood guard over the little fishing village as early as the 12th century, when pirates plied the waters.  The inhabitants tended their vineyards up in the hills, surrounded by fortified walls and hillside terracing, depending on their watchtower to keep them informed of pirate activity.

Village of Vernazza with the Tower
Vernazza from above. You can see the tower of the Castello Restaurant on the far left

During World War II, the tower became a lookout for the Nazis. The British bombed them out, so the tower needed to be rebuilt. Today the remains have been converted into hilltop dining with sweeping views of the Mediterranean.

Ristorante al Castello, above the harbor of Vernazza
Ristorante al Castello, a climb up the stone steps above the harbor of Vernazza 

Climbing up a steep and winding pathway from the harbor, we set out to dine at the Castello. After we arrived, we were seated at a table with spacious views of the water. Soft ocean breezes swept through the restaurant, carrying with it hints of citrus which mingled well with the salty smell of the sea. Delicious Ligurian cuisine was listed on the menu, consisting of seafood with pasta dishes, herbed  baked fish, lasagna with pesto, and my favorite- a seafood medley.  I ordered it without hesitation.

Freshly caught Mediterranean seafood
Freshly caught Mediterranean seafood

Freshly caught fish, shrimps, scallops, calamari and mussels covered my plate with the bounty of the sea. The white fish proved flavorful and flaky, the shrimps crisp, and the scallops large, buttery and tender. It was a delectable feast.

Evening view from the Castello
Evening view from the Castello

Lingering over glasses of the local white wine, we observed other couples dining at outdoor tables on the terrace below that hugged the cliff walls overlooking the sea. Candles illuminated faces and wine sparkled and danced in goblets as the last remaining rays of the sun stretched out its arms over the twilight sky. Voices grew hushed and intimate. The warmth from the day gave way to cooling puffs of wind off the water.

Address: Via Guidoni 56, Vernazza, Italy

Have you ever dreamed of dining in a castle? Maybe you have…if so, where did you dine? I love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment below.

Twilight Begins over the Mediterranean
Twilight Begins over the Mediterranean