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150th Country Anniversary

Italy is celebrating

Elisabeth Lang, eTN  Apr 22, 2011

ITALY (eTN) - This year, Italy is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the unification of the country, which started a month ago on March 17, 2011 (this date has been declared a national holiday in Italy) and will be on-going on until November 2011. While all Italian flags were sold out for celebration day on March 17, they are now available in supermarkets for everyone wanting them.

This year, decorations in Italian national colors is a must, whether it is a carpet, or a car, or flower arrangements. Rome is waving flags in all the famous shopping streets, but Turin - where it all began - is beating it all. Flags are all over the place. Milan paid a stunning tri-color tribute in the famous Galleria Vittorio Emmanule, with the dome completely covered by beautiful lighting.

So far, Italy has already proudly received over 250,000 guests within the first month of the 150th year celebration.
But now back to history - national unity was declared on March 17, 1861 in Turin, which became the country’s first capital. Prior to this, Italy was divided into several states, some ruled by foreign powers until nationalists led by the kingdom of Sardinia, Piedmont’s ruling House of Savoy and Prime Minister Camillo Benso di Cavour fought for a united country. Many of the campaigns were led by hero Giuseppe Garibaldi, who retired then to the island of Caprera on the La Maddalena archipelago off Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda. Today, the island is a tourist destination with a museum dedicated to Giuseppe Garibaldi, which is currently being revamped.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of national unity, the Italian government will hold several big events. US President Obama is due in Rome from May 25-29 and will send Vice President Biden for the momentous gigantic parade on June 2, 2011 held in Rome.
But there is also another big event coming up soon. Rome is getting ready for the Beautification of Papa Woytila on May 1, 2011. Starting with a vigil on April 30 at Circo Massimo in Rome, over one million “pelligrini” pilgrims are expected, many of them arriving in 5,046 buses (this means 267,438 pilgrims) from all over Europe.

The Beautification Festa for Sunday will cost the city of Rome 3.5 million euros, with 3,000 additional policemen, 3,470 volunteers, and extra transportation running until the late hours.

Santa Sede (Vatican) expects 450,000 pilgrims on Sunday alone in the Piazza San Pietro, where Pope Benedict will start the celebration of the Beautification of Papa Giovanni Paolo II at 10:00 am on Sunday, May 1, 2011.

The Beatification festivities are ending on May 2 with a big concert in the Piazza Campidoglio under the theme, “Giovanni Paolo II e Roma,” with pop singers like Matia Bazar and others.

This is good news for everyone in town: all of the Roman museums will stay open on Sunday, May 1, as well as Monday, May 2. Museums are usually closed on Mondays. Also a special entry fee of only 1 €uro will be charged for museum entry.

Singing, praying, and cheering are the goals, and even shopkeepers will join in on the choir as they will be allowed to keep their shops open on Sunday.

Special Concerts, exhibitions, and just you name it will be on offer at the Papa Piazza Campidoglio, and hotel rates will return to normal, promised Guiseppe Roscioli, President of Italian Hotel Federation, with bed & breakfast inns more popular than ever.

On May 18, a 4-meter bronze statue of Papa Wojtyla will be be erected at Stazione Termini, the main railway station in Rome, making history as being the first pope ever in a railway station.

Italy is celebrating
Milan's colorful Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele / Photo © E. Lang

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