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Rimini Libera – Celebrate the 25th of April

libera_riminiItaly’s national festival of liberation, on the 25th of April, is celebrated with style in Rimini with events organised by A.N.P.I (the national partisans’ association) under the banner ‘Rimini Libera’ (Rimini Free).

It’s a festival that celebrates the uprisings that brought an end to the Nazi-Fascist rule in Italy in 1945. It’s a festival with a particular resonance for Rimini, given the heavy fighting that occured in and around the city during the autumn of 1944 when the Allies – with the assistance of local partisans – broke through the infamous gothic line in a series of bloody battles. 

There are reminders in and around the city of this important piece of modern European history, including Piazza Tre Martiri, the war cemetry at Coriano (the battle of Coriano Ridge) and the Gothic line museum in Montegridolfo.

The battle of Rimini, was one of the least discussed but hugely important battles of the war –  Sir Richard McCreery described it as every bit as bitter and important as El Alamein or Monte Cassino.

“the biggest battle of materials ever fought in Italy”, was one of the most crucial (and unknown) battles of the 2nd World War, fought by 1.200.000 men and thousands of guns, tanks and aircraft. It was a giant pincer manoeuvre fought by the British 8th Army on the Adriatic and by the US 5th Army in the Apennines. Against Rimini, already ruined by 92 air raids, the Allied Artillery fired 1.470.000 rounds (1.200.000 at El Alamein, 500.000 at Cassino), not counting the British Navy and  the German Artillery. The aircraft flew 11.510 sorties (486 only on Sept.18). Casualties until 21.09.1944 amounted to around 80.000, civilians inclusive, and to more than 754 armoured vehicles destroyed or damaged only in the Adriatic sector. In the whole battle, casualties were around 100.000, Italians inclusive. (On 7 Oct. Alexander assessed 30.000 allied and 42.000 German casualties) The battle climaxed in the last days of September 1944. Breached the Gothic Lines.1 and n.2, captured Rimini gateway to North Italy and to the Balkans, cut the German defences in the Apennines, Kesselring was menaced with being surrounded. He felt to be defeated and asked Hitler twice to evacuate Italy. The victory for the Allies was within grasp, but soon disappeared when the Americans were stopped at Mount Battaglia. Kesselring, the winner, was later rewarded with the command of the German Armies in the West.

The emphasis for the day, in Rimini at least, is to remind people of the roots of modern Italian democracy, of the sacrifice made by countless partisans who rose up against the fascist authorities and Nazi occupiers. 

ANPI along with the town authorities holds a ceremony in Piazza Cavour in the morning – which usually includes music, and the singing of the famous partisan  anthem Bella Ciao –  then in the afternoon from 15.30 onwards there are a number of street entertainers,  an singers, along with children’s games and a number of stands with information about the partisan war in Italy.

The closing of the day’s festivities includes a big concert in Piazza Cavour, with local folk band Araba Fenice followed by the coro della Mondine di Novi di Modena

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