Looking good for her age – Italy celebrates 150 years!

Italians will be flying their flag high for the 150th anniversary of Italy!

17th March is the date in which Italy officially became a united nation.


After centuries of existing as separate states (and oft-times not even on such great terms), Italy was united in 1861, with 2011 thus marking the 150th anniversary of Italy.


With the peninsula having a history dating back to at least the 9th century B.C., Italy has been ruled (and/or invaded) at some point by the Romans, Celts, Spanish, Austrians, Arabs, and others who have all had an influence over the culture, cuisine, dialects, traditions and even physical characteristics of the locals.


After centuries of rivalry and warring however, a movement began in the early 1800s to unite the nation.

The movement was mainly inspired to combat the Austrian Empire’s control over the upper regions of Italy, where Italian was still spoken nonetheless. Of course, the Austrians were not too happy  about the movement, and there was also resistance from the Holy See, the Vatican state, which tried to maintain power over certain areas covered by the Papacy ? including most of what are today the Romagna, Marche, Umbria and Lazio regions.


Known as the ‘Risorgimento’ (or, Resurgence), the movement took some decades to obtain its goal of unification. Despite strong support for the unification, there was still debate over exactly which form of government should reign should Italy be united. Confederation, republic or otherwise, this debate help-up the process for some years.


Giuseppe Mazzini (1805?1872) who fought with words and Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807?1882) who fought in a more physical way having lead a revolution in 1848, are figures credited with having played pivotal roles in the movement, and to this day, many street names and other structures are named in their honour.


The extraordinarily long-named Vittorio Emanuele Maria Alberto Eugenio Ferdinando Tommaso (1820 ?1878) also supported the movement, and it paid off. Having been king of Piedmont, Savoy and Sardinia from 1849 to 1861, when he was eventually crowned the first King of Italy.


Although some states resisted joining initially, 1861 is still considered the official birthdate of what is now Italy, with King Vittorio Emanuele II reigning until the time of his death in 1878 (and also has many streets and piazzas named in his honour).


For 2011, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi has announced a public holiday to mark the occasion of Italy’s 150th anniversary. People have been called upon to place Italian flags from their windows,

schools and most offices will remain closed, and public transport will be operating on the public holiday/Sunday timetable.


Celebrations include parades, morning flag-raising ceremonies in every city around Italy, events located around historical sites of Italy (such as at the Pantheon), there will be ‘Bande e Fanfare miliarti’ (Military Bands and Fanfare), as well as the ‘Notti Tricolori’.


The ‘Notti Tricolori’ -or, Tri-coloured Nights, in honour of Italy’s tri-coloured flag- include the opening of museums until late, free entry into most government-owned museums including the Uffizi Gallery and Academia museum, and concerts to be held in central piazzas around Italy.


For a personalized and relaxed insight into Italy’s history, culture and the families who contributed to the Italy we know and love today, see our Artviva Artists, Authors and Aristocrats evening (including wine tasting) in Florence.


Artviva Walking Tours’ small-group museum tours in Florence, including the Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery tour and the Original David Tour to the Academia Museum are still operating on 17th March 2011. Ticket costs to the museums will be deducted from the tour price (or refunded for bookings effectuated on-line at www.italy.artviva.com). Skip-the-line entry is still included in the Florence museum tours.


We also have a small-group guided walking tour of Florence, the Original Florence Walk, for a 3-hour city walk with English-speaking guide to see the must-see sights of Florence.


Our Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery Tour, Original David Tour and Original Florence Walk guided Florence city walk tour are part of our Florence in One Glorious Day (or two) discounted tour package in Florence.


For more information about small-group guided tours in Florence, Tuscany countryside tours (including the Best of Tuscany tour), our skip-the-line guided Vatican tour, Rome walk tours, Venice small-group tours, Cinque Terre tour from Florence, and other great things to do in Italy (hands-on cooking class anyone?), email us on staff@artviva.com or see www.italy.artviva.com.

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