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O’ Bella Ciao !

April 25 marks the Liberation Day (Festa della liberazione), also known as Anniversary of the Resistance (anniversario della Resistenza) for Italy.  The day commemorates the victory of the partisans who fought in the Resistance of the Italian Civil war and also the end of Nazi occupation of the country during World War II. In 1945, National Liberation Committee of Upper Italy seized power and proclaimed death sentences to all fascist leaders including Mussolini. By May 1, all of Northern Italy was liberated from 23 years of fascist dictatorship and 5 years of war. Mussolini fled to Lake Como with his mistress and while trying to reach Switzerland, he was identified and shot dead.

In 1946, the actual date for celebrating the liberation day was chosen and till today, Italy celebrates the freedom by organizing marches and parades across the cities.  One integral association to the Partisan Movement is the famous song Bella Ciao. The song was actively sung during the anti-fascist resistance movement between 1943 and 1945.  The song became so popular that it has been adopted by resistant movements throughout the world.  The song was originally sung by rice weeders narrating the harsh working conditions in the rice fields of Northern Italy.

The lyrics of the song can be found here :

Before coming to Milan, I was totally unaware of this song.  During my regular binge watches on Netflix, my heart skipped a beat when I heard the Bella Ciao Song in La Casa Del Papel.  I played the song several times till it got stuck in my head. Here is the original version of the same song:

During Liberation Day in Milan, the parades began pouring from all sides of the streets and converged in Duomo. In the searing heat with the flags held high, the band started playing and singing different Italian songs. Lastly they ended their concert with the song my ears were waiting to hear.  The crowd roared as we all proudly sang the famous Bella Ciao.  Standing among the locals and singing the freedom song with pride was indeed a great feeling.  I could sense the same emotions pouring out when I was in Washington DC during the Rolling Thunder Rally on Thanksgiving. The beauty of the song is that despite the ferocity and courage in the manner of singing, the lyrics are not revolutionary.  Instead the words are more mellowed and sad.

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April 25 is also significant for Australians and New Zealanders as it marks the ANZAC day. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. On April 25, 1915 they formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. ANZAC day is the national day of commemoration for those who died during the war. Below are the images from my visit to the ANZAC memorial in Gallipoli, Turkey .

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After nearly 73 years, Italy continues to remember and commemorate their victory over Fascist rule with passion and patriotism on April 25. The older generation hopes to pass on the memories and legacy of the resistance as a reminder that freedom is valuable and something to be cherished!

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Copyright ©2018, Lakshmi Nair. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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