Italy on Monday celebrated its 71st Liberation Day, a national holiday which remembers Italians who fought against the Nazi and Fascist troops during World War II.
"It is always a time of resistance, as war and cruel violence are at the borders of Europe, in the Mediterranean, in the Middle East... There cannot be peace only for a few, and misery, hunger, wars, for others: this would crush the peace of those who think they have achieved it forever," Italian President Sergio Mattarella said at a ceremony in Rome's Altar of the Fatherland monument, which hosts the tomb of the Italian unknown soldier.
"Seventy years of peace have been delivered to us by our fathers, and we have the responsibility to continue, to widen the path of harmony inside the European Union (EU) and everywhere," Mattarella said with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Senate speaker Pietro Grasso, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti attending the ceremony.
The day honors partisans who served the Italian resistance in helping the Allies end the Nazi-Fascist occupation of the country. A liberation committee of partisans on April 25, 1945 announced the death sentence for all fascist leaders, including Benito Mussolini, who was shot to death three days later on April 28, 1945.
Like every year, the Liberation Day was marked by political celebrations, music concerts, marching bands, and arts and food festivals in many places in Italy.
Public offices and many businesses stayed closed on Monday, while the Italian flag was seen in parades and the song Bella Ciao (Goodbye Beautiful) was often played during the day as it used to be sung by Italian partisans during World War II.
Thousands of people took part in a march of ANPI, the national association representing former partisans, in capital Rome.
Extreme right-wingers, however, contested the Liberation Day, with some taking part in demonstrations, refusing to celebrate the holiday, or claiming that Italy betrayed Germany as wartime alliance.