Teachers' Blog

Festa della Liberazione!

Slightly after the fact, but I thought I’d call the attention of non-Italian friends to an important holiday celebrated here each year on April 25 — the day designated to commemorate the overthrow of the Fascist-Nazi regime in the spring of 1945.  

Growing up in Massachusetts, I inevitably viewed World War II as something that happened “over there,” though countless American lives were affected as well. My father, while still a teenager, served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Ocean Theater. All the same, it was not a war fought on North American soil.  That makes a big difference.

In Italy, war memories remain fresh in people’s minds. Come to a town like Chiusure in the Crete Senesi — where many residents are, as they say, “of a certain age” — and there’s no end to the stories you’ll hear. Relatives killed. Villagers hiding for days when the Front passed through town as Nazi troops were pushed back north by the advancing Allies. Food and livestock confiscated.  Bloody scores settled between Partisans and Fascists even after the official end of hostilities.  Hardship and hunger in post-war years. The subsequent birth of the Italian Republic in light of the referendum of June 2, 1946 — when women, too, voted for the first time and all citizens together decided the new shape of their country.

April 25 also marks the culmination of the annual three-day Artichoke Festival in Chiusure. Thousands of visitors come to this town, which usually is home to about 95 souls. The food is outstanding — this small corner of Italy boasts its own variety of artichoke, praiseworthy not only for its taste but also for its especially healthful qualities. The final day — April 25 — is a blast. Artichoke soup, artichoke pasta, fried artichokes, local pecorino cheese, tons of other yummies, great local wine. And music! Nothing can match the sound of a band playing live in the piazza, especially when the band is the beloved Società Filarmonica Giuseppe Verdi from the nearby town of Asciano.

A few photos of the musicians and majorettes.

And why not?  A little video, too.

One final shot.  Years ago, this entryway to Chiusure was known for the beautiful arch connecting the houses from one side of the street to the other.  A column of Nazi tanks, retreating northward to their homeland, could not fit through. Without hesitation they opened fire, blasting the road wider.  

The majorettes and musicians from Asciano are far more welcome travelers in the place where the arch used to be.

Jeff Shapiro,

Creative Writing teacher