Happy Liberation Day Italia!

25 Aprile Festa della LiberazioneToday is one of Italy’s biggest holidays: la Festa della Liberazione or Liberation Day, celebrating the country’s liberation from fascism thanks to Allied troops at the end of World War II.

When I first arrived here, many of the older residents, upon finding out I was American, loved sharing their memories of American soldiers who marched into the village from over the mountain and handed out chocolates to the children.

Sixty plus years later, and they simply can’t forget what life was like under “Il Duce.” My neighbor Anna Maria still remembers a children’s rhyme that lamented days without bread and nights without light: “u jornu senza pane, la notte senza luce.”

Liberation Day celebrations in Italy are two-fold — one part is to honor those who fought the fascist regime and the other is to protest against tyranny and oppression throughout the world.

Not coincidentally, Italian comedian, actor, blogger, and Champion of Change Beppe Grillo has chosen today to hold the second V-Day to encourage “freedom of information in a free state.” That V stands for “vaffanculo” and tells oppressors and criminals in positions of power in Italy what they can go do to themselves.

Now go celebrate!

And don’t forget to check out Cherrye’s Buttermilk Biscuits
for La Buona Cucina Americana!

Buon weekend a tutti!

35 Beans of Wisdom to “Happy Liberation Day Italia!”
  1. Happy Liberation Day to you!


    nyc/caribbean ragazza’s last blog post..This ragazza is very tired.

    Thanks! Same to you πŸ™‚

  2. 04.25.2008

    Yes, happy L & V Day! Will there be a parade?

    Homebody at Heart’s last blog post..The Ecstasy of Gian Lorenzo Bernini

    Not here specifically, but yes throughout Italy there will be πŸ™‚

  3. Gil

    Happy Liberation Day to you! I can still remember my Godfather telling me how happy the Italians were to see him and the rest of the GIs and how well that they were treated.

    Gil I’ve often thought how cool it would be if the soldiers who came into all these little villages were able to return….

  4. 04.25.2008

    I wouldn’t say this to my Italian friends but I always find it odd how Italians have so quickly forgotten their fascist past and their role in WWII and the Holocaust. They like to celebrate the partisan heroes on April 25 but they don’t mention that WWII was a defeat for them – what about the millions of Italians who fell under the spell of Mussolini and fought the Allies tooth and nail for the fascist cause? Strangely, no one seems to mention that little tidbit of fact on April 25th. Somehow it’s been turned around so you’d think that the Italians fought AGAINST fascism during WWII. No doubt some did but many did not and even more changed sides when the going got rough under Mussolini.

    Just sayin…historical memory is very selective.

    kataroma’s last blog post..Playing the pregnancy card

    Yes I agree that the Italian government has a lot of owning up to do for its actions before and during WWII, but I don’t think it’s selective memory so much as today isn’t really the appropriate day for that; on July 4th in the US we don’t talk about Loyalists to the Crown either (in fact we don’t talk about them at all).

    Only the most confused would think that Italians fought against fascism during WWII–Mussolini as a fascist leader is pretty well known, I think?

    That said I should add that I would absolutely support something that recognizes the Italian Jews that were killed, sent to concentration camps, or forced to escape the country during the Holocaust in conjunction with Liberation Day. Anyone know if this exists anywhere?

    Joanna Hamil Reply:

    There’s a wonderful book by Alexander Stille called “Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Jewish Families Under Fascism” but Italy has a long way to go in facing up to its history. Mussolini actually did resist the race laws for some time before Hitler forced his hand. It’s all very sad and complicated.

  5. 04.25.2008

    Enjoy your holiday. I like the part about thinking about oppression throughout the world. Pray for those oppressed while you celebrate freedom.

    Absolutely! And thanks πŸ™‚

  6. 04.25.2008

    Oh, my virgin ears πŸ˜‰

    Happy Liberation Day!!! Sounds like you were welcomed with open arms when you arrived…and I am sure you have your share of stories passed on to you…

    My Melange’s last blog post..Italian Dialects

    Blame Beppe Robin!

    And I have to say that the locals here couldn’t have been more friendly and open–I think it helped that I was here by myself and they’re just not used to seeing such a kid (I was 26 and had been a lawyer for 2 years!) all by her lonesome πŸ˜‰ I *still* love hearing those stories….

  7. 04.25.2008

    What bothers me is that they haven’t bothered to develop any traditions for this holiday. I think we ought to work at getting them to have a picnic, at which they could either eat German food (consuming Nazis) or American and British food with Moroccan touches. (That’s because through quite a lot of the northward advance, the Allies sent the Moroccans as the advance guard.)

    If they’d rather have baton twirling or something, then fine, but it is an eating country and they have, after all, had 63 years to come up with something, so let”s just make them do it.

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..Made in America: Buttermilk Biscuits!

    I love it Judith! I have some sauerkraut here…should I put it on or what?!

  8. 04.25.2008

    Sure thing. Hope you have some wurstel.

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..Made in America: Buttermilk Biscuits!

    But of course! And I’ve finally figured out that baby (Plasmon) applesauce is pretty good in a pinch–not good for pinching centissimi though πŸ™

  9. 04.25.2008

    Have a nice holiday! Is everyone off for this holiday (like the 4th of July here)? What traditions go along with the holiday?

    PS – I love the Made in America Fridays that y’all are doing. Off to check out the buttermilk biscuit recipe to see if it is like my grandma version. :o)

    Jenn’s last blog post..A to Z Tips

    Yes, everything is closed today Jenn–it’s a “red” day here, literally a day in red on the calendar which means everything is closed! There really aren’t traditions aside from parades, demonstrations, etc.–a lot of people go away for the holiday, especially when it falls on either side of the weekend, making a bridge (literally “il ponte”) for a long weekend.

    We’re hanging around here and doing a little cookout later πŸ™‚

  10. 04.25.2008

    Another odd thing that I’ve found here is how some right-leaning parties found a way to turn Liberazione into a politically divisive commemoration. They seem to think it’s only a celebration for the left when I believe it’s a celebration for all Italians. People have such short memories sometimes.
    Oh, and thanks for spreading the word about Grillo! Love him!!!!

    Linda’s last blog post..Festa di Liberazione

    My pleasure Linda, and yes, so ridiculous about partisan Liberation Day. Mah.

  11. 04.25.2008

    How wonderful! Enjoy the holiday and the weekend.


    Ink in My Coffee

    Devon Ellington’s last blog post..Friday, April 25,2008

    Thanks Devon, and thanks for coming by!

  12. 04.25.2008

    Happy V2 Day Michelle! Those of us who care and cry for Italy can follow along at http://new.c6.tv/

    Paolo’s last blog post..despair

    Sounds like you’re enjoying the day as well πŸ™‚

  13. 04.25.2008

    Happy Liberation Day, Michelle!

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..Music Monday – “Respect” – Aretha Franklin

    Thanks Jen πŸ™‚

  14. 04.25.2008

    You mentioned in one of your comments that we don’t really talk about the Loyalists in our own history. Back in ’95, my husband and I drove up to Ontario, and we visited a small local museum, celebrating the culture of the area. It was eye opening to see the settlement of the area as being by proud people who were loyal to their king, as opposed to how we kind of grew up thinking of them as ‘the bad guys’.

    I agree that it’s interesting that Italians don’t really talk about Mussolini and their own fascist past, but then again, we rarely talk about slaughtering the Indians on the 4th of July or Thanksgiving, so yes, selective history is an interesting thing.

    J’s last blog post..Yaz – Only You

    It would be wonderful if we could find ways to incorporate everything into holiday observations, wouldn’t it? As it is, here in Italy as Judith commented above, they don’t have much organized observation at all (shock!). But even something at another time of year would do….

  15. 04.26.2008

    I saw Cherrye’s buttermilk biscuits and gained 20 pounds just looking at them. yummy.

    Thanks for the history lesson about the Italian holiday! Very interesting.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog also. :o)

    Rhea’s last blog post..Potbelly pigs, Miss Goody Twoshoes, a scar, Latin, a shotgun and floating in bed.

    Glad you came by Rhea, and I really hope that 20 is easy to lose πŸ˜‰

  16. 04.26.2008

    Yea! Did you celebrate? We did and it was so nice to have a day off!

    Cherrye’s last blog post..Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits – La Buona Cucina Americana

    Nothing special, no, but it was nice to take a break…that I’m still taking πŸ˜‰

  17. 04.26.2008

    What a great post. I actually got the chills when I read the part about the American soldiers and the positive memories older Italians have of them. During a time of a ridiculous, gone-on-way-too-long war, I can only hope and pray that one day our American soldiers are remembered for some positive memories for Iraqis.

    Sorry to get too political!

    Happy Liberation Day!

    We Are Never Full’s last blog post..Grazie…Gracias…Thank You

    No need to apologize! You bring up an excellent hope. I completely agree.

    And thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  18. 04.26.2008

    Happy Liberation Day! Thanks for stopping by my blog.


    Paz’s last blog post..Tepid Chickpea and Chicken Salad with Zucchini and Sundried Tomatoes or Insalata Tiepida di Ceci e Pollo con Zucchine e Pomodori Secchi

    Thanks Paz, and thanks for coming by πŸ™‚

  19. 04.26.2008

    When we lived in Anzio for 3 months, we heard many, many tearful stories from old-timers who remembered the Allied landing there. It was so touching. Liberation Day here actually is connected with a huge picnic – about 15,000 (!!) people turned out up on Colle San Marco for a mass picnic outing…on the hillside where the partisans launched some very decisive victories. After the wreath-laying ceremony, the food appeared. Still Italian, after all!

    Valerie’s last blog post..Raindrops

    Sounds so lovely Valerie! I imagine Anzio is full of stories, yes….

  20. 04.27.2008

    Gee I learn something new every time I visit here, huh!
    Il Duce was hung in a petrol station for all to see.
    Those were the days.
    I think it would be wonderful to hear stories from older generations like the
    people in your village. How awesome and it’s an added bonus that the memories they
    have are *positive* ones of Americans. Yay to that!

    cheeky’s last blog post..i do love thee

    It is definitely nice to be on the positive side of memories, yes πŸ™‚ Glad you learned something new here today!

  21. My father used to talk about this day a lot. He knew that rhyme too. During the heaviest fighting between Anzio and Cassino, they would hide all day in the caves carved in the mountains, and come out at night to forage for food. Can you imagine? He never forgot that hunger. He would also tell me stories about when “il Duce” would visit his school. Apparently, he was very sweet to the children.

    Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy’s last blog post..Thinking Cloves with Spicy Banana Cookies

    Thanks so much for sharing your father’s memories Susan. I can’t imagine what life must have been like, no. I was just talking to P’s mom about this yesterday–said it was absolutely full of German soldiers around here and she remembers it like yesterday.

  22. 04.27.2008

    Sounds like a perfect day to celebrate. Hope it was a joyful one for you, Michelle. …..and that somebody handed you a chocolate or two.

    karen cole’s last blog post..THE PARADE

    That’s very sweet Karen; I think I did have a chocolate or two on Friday πŸ˜‰

  23. So – first thing’s first. Thanks for visiting my blog! You have no idea how excited I am when I have a new reader. Even if it is a new reader who has browsed one of my dumber posts. Ok, who am I kidding, most of my posts are dumb. Ok, all. Anyway. Hope you’ll be back!

    Now I’ve browsed your blog and I am SO jealous that you live in Italy. I have had the pleasure of visiting, and am SO SO SO JEALOUS!!!!!!!!!!! OBSCENELY JEALOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ok, anyway, thanks for visiting!

    Law Student Hot Mama’s last blog post..Testiculardom and Some T&A in Hopes of Boosting My Readership

    Well I can’t say I’m jealous of the law school thing…been there, and ew πŸ˜‰

    But no need for jealousy! Just a post-bar exam plane ticket! You deserve it!

  24. Luigi

    I’m afraid Kataroma may be quite right. It’s easy to forget the unpleasant aspect of one’s past. And while everybody knows that Italy was fascist, it’s very common (and very human) to conveniently forget the popular support and imagine that fascism was some sort of external evil which dominated italy. Unfortunately, refuse to assume responsibilities for one’s past is a scary sign. It means there’s nothing wrong in walking the same path again : after all, last time it only went wrong because of that other guy. It was not us. We are good.

    I wonder what’s the general attitude in germany. What little I understand of that seems more healty. “Yes, our grandfathers were mostly (insert unpolite word here, probably ending in “holes”). We know that and we got the lesson. Now, would you mind stop bothering me about it?”. Of course I know only very few germans so I don’t really know.

    BTW. I was at beppe grillo’s v2 (it was in my town, within walking distance from my home). Some things he says are quite right, and maybe he *is* the wake up call italy needs right now. However, I’m a bit scared by the way he simply asked the public to insult given politician and everybody did just that. Plus I’m definitely not comfortable by somebody attacking somebody because of his physical appearance. Berlusconi is definitely no favourite of mine. But anybody laughing at him because he’s a “bald dwarf” is making me want to vote forza italia (or popolo della libertΓ  or whatever).

    (and yes, I know he also mentioned politician all around the spectrum. It bothered me all around the spectrum )

    Making fun of Berlu’s size is kind of a national pastime here–sort of how some (ahem) Americans make fun of our President’s intelligence…but I’d take a short Prez over a stupid one any day πŸ˜‰

    Excellent points in the first paragraph–as the saying goes (somewhat, I couldn’t find the actual quote): those who forget/don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it.

  25. Antonio Tahhan

    I just came across your blog and I think it’s great! I was in Italy this past winter break, but didn’t make it to Palermo (I was mainly around Florence). I’ve decided that I must go back and visit Southern Italy because it looks AMAZING! Enjoy yourself!

    Hi Antonio, nice to see you! Yes southern Italy is a whole other animal, so to speak, so I hope you do get to come back and visit. Thanks for stopping by!

  26. 04.29.2008

    Luigi – yeah that’s exactly what I meant. I think it’s shameful that Italians don’t remember the wide support they had for fascism before and during WWII – it’s made out to be something which was imposed from outside. It’s especially sad when Italians make stupid statements about Germans being “Nazis”. At least the Germans have (largely) come to terms with their past – learning about it extensively at school etc.

    Speaking of which – I’ve been to the Jewish Ghetto in Rome lots of times and have not noticed a memorial to the thousands of Jews who were rounded up and deported there. I guess there must be something somewhere – but where? It’s strange that in a city like Rome with such a rich Jewish past there is so little awareness of it.

    I guess considering the Lega Nord’s recent victories and Alemanno’s victory in the rome mayoral race I’d have to say that those who do not remember the past are fated to repeat it.

    kataroma’s last blog post..Playing the pregnancy card

    It is truly disturbing to hear there may be nothing even in the Jewish Ghetto to honor those Jews who were killed, tortured, deported, etc. I know that the old concentration camp here in Calabria is basically overgrown and difficult to even find….

  27. Joanna

    Here in Toscana, the song “Ciao Bella Ciao” honors the partisans who fought against the Germans during the occupation and the war.

    And anyone interested in the Jewish experience during the war should read Alexander Stille’s “Benevolence and Betrayal, Five Jewish Families under Fascism”

    Thanks for that rec Joanna!

  28. Did you read Paul Paolicelli’s second book, “Under the Southern Sun”, in chapter 5 that there was a concentration camp in Ferramonti, about 35 km. north of the Calabrian capital of Cosenza and how kind the Italians were to those in the concentration camp. They would round up the little kids in the camp and take them for gelato. They also escaped INTO the concentration camp to avail themselves of the services of the Jewish doctors and dentists. I laughed when the camp was expecting a visit from one of the German dignitaries and they didn’t want him to see how relaxed it was so they put up a flag that showed there was disease there and the German dignitary avoided the camp like the plague. From what Paolicelli wrote, after the war most of the survivors stayed in that area.

    Very interesting book about his travels to find his grandfather’s village in Calabria.

    I have read it; I’m sorry I loaned my copy out years ago and never got it back…I even had notes in it πŸ™

  29. Paul

    Re comments from Luigi and others above, I agree on historical revisionism. Nauseous and worrying. I get the impression that a fair number of Italians see Italy as a victim of WWII, rather than a country which gave Mussolini an awful lot of support until the tide turned. Some of these folk I see as “cry-baby fascists” – having failed to win the war and impose their will on others by force (Mussolini’s strong Italy was of course soon revealed to be a load of PR puff) they now hope to appear superior by presenting themselves as victims. A plaque outside the Palazzo Regione on Via Roma, Cagliari, annoys me intensely, and I’m amazed that the Regione allowed it to be put there. In short, it says that the bombers that bombed Cagliari in February 43 (American though the British also came) attacked the “hardworking and peaceful City of Cagliari”. Some younger Italians may wonder why they came. Sheer spite? It couldn’t by any chance have had anything to with Italy’s central role in the Axis and Cagliari’s airbases at Elmas, Monserrato and Decimomanu? Historical revisionism of the worst kind. By all means mourn your dead, but do not rewrite history.

    On a related note (and no disrespect to the owner of this page and any other Americans – the Yanks were true heroes during WWII, entering yet again another war not of their making, dying thousands of miles from home, and the opening horrors of Saving Private Ryan make me weep) but I suspect some Italians prefer to think that they were liberated only by Americans (google Salerno 2010 liberation Day for the story). Maybe because America can be seen as a far far away country, like a distant saviour. And America can be seen as almost Italian due to years of emigrants? And to honour the British, Polish and Commonwealth troops would, maybe, shine a poor light on the choices made by Italy and many Italians?
    I can recommend a very good book on the fight to free Italy (“Italy’s Sorrow” by James Holland) which gives due credit to the heroes in the Partisans (not all Communist) and the troops from many many nations.

    Happy Liberation Day Italy, but for F*** sake do try to unite around something and remember – learn if you have to – some history.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Paul, and especially for the book recommendation.

  30. 05.03.2010

    My Dad visited in WW2, and got these interesting vintage postcards and photographs (linked in URL).

    Thanks for sharing Stephen!

  31. AmyEmilia

    My husband (who was born in 1943) remembers that the blankets brought by the American soldiers were still around when he was growing up near Carrara and in Alessandria. The folks around Carrara and up in the mountains were very involved in the partisan actions and lots of folks died. In every little village I visited, there is a small plaque or memorial to the partisani who died. His family was divided by the war since his father was a Fascist but his wife and their family were not…

    michelle Reply:

    That war was so very divisive indeed, also among immigrants to other countries who ended up fighting against their homeland. Such an interesting time in history.

  32. Joanna Hamil

    I seem to have repeated myself this year. Whoops.

  1. [...] past Friday was Liberation Day in Italy, and also V-Day 2, as noted by Bleeding [...]... italylogue.com/italian-news/italian-news-snippets-042708.html
Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake