Liberation Day, or Festa della Liberazione, on April 25 is a national public holiday marked by ceremonies, historic re-enactments, and celebrations commemorating the end of World War II in Italy. Many towns hold fairs, concerts, food festivals, or special events. Much like D-Day celebrations in the US and elsewhere, it is also a day that Italy honors its war dead and veterans, called combattenti, or fighters. Most cities and smaller towns still ring bells to commemorate the day of liberation for Italy, and wreaths are placed on war monuments.
Unlike on some other big Italian holidays, most major sites and museums are open on Liberation Day, although businesses and some stores are likely to be closed. You may also come across special exhibits or exceptional openings of sites or monuments not normally open to the public.
Since the May 1 holiday of Labor Day falls less than a week later, Italians often take a ponte, or bridge, to have an extended vacation from April 25 through May 1. Therefore, this period can be very crowded in top tourist destinations. If you're planning to visit any museums or top sites, it's a good idea to check to be sure they are open and buy your tickets in advance.
Visiting World War II Sites in Italy
April 25 is a good day to visit one of the many sites, historic monuments, battlegrounds, or museums related to World War II. One of the best known World WarII sites in Italy is Montecassino Abbey, the site of a major battle near the end of the war. Although almost completely destroyed by the bombing, the abbey was quickly rebuilt and is still a working monastery. Sitting high on a hilltop midway between Rome and Naples, Montecassino Abbey is well worth a visit to see the beautiful basilica with its stunning mosaics and frescoes, the museum with historic memorabilia from World War II, and great views.
Thousands of Americans died in Europe during World Wars I and II and Italy has two large American cemeteries that can be visited. The Sicily-Rome American Cemetery at Nettuno is south of Rome (see southern Lazio map) and can be reached by train. The Florence American Cemetery, just south of Florence, can easily be reached by bus from Florence.
For more Italian World War II sites that you can visit, see Anne Leslie Saunders’ excellent book, A Travel Guide to World War II Sites in Italy.
April 25 Festivals in Venice:
Venice celebrates one of its most important festivals, the Festa di San Marco, honoring Saint Mark, the city's patron saint. The Festa di San Marco is celebrated with a gondoliers' regatta, a procession to Saint Mark's Basilica and a festival in Piazza San Marco or Saint Mark’s Square. Expect big crowds in Venice on April 25 and if you're visiting the city during this period, be sure to book your Venice hotel in advance.
Venice also celebrates the traditional festa del Bocolo, or blooming rose, a day when men present the women in their lives (girlfriends, wives, or mothers) with a red rosebud or bocolo.