Florence’s WW2 Liberation Day 2021 Events

The tower of Palazzo Vecchio, where the Marinella bell will ring on 7 am on August 11 as it did announcing the liberation of Florence on that date in 1944

August 11 marks the date of Florence’s liberation in 1944 from the retreating German army and Fascist sympathizers during World War II by the Tuscan resistance fighters (partigiani) with the arrival of Allied forces.  On that day, members of the Comitato Toscana di Liberazione Nazionale (the Tuscan Committee for National Liberation) had established a new city government in Palazzo Medici Riccardi. Earlier, on night of August 3 and early hours of August 4, all the bridges except Ponte Vecchio had been mined and blown up in the retreat, and were not reconstructed until the 1950s.

On August 11, 2021, one of Palazzo Vecchio’s three bells, the “Martinella,” will toll at 7 am as it did on August 11, 1944 to announce the city’s liberation. Laurel wreathes will be laid below a plaque remembering Florence’s liberation on the facade of Palazzo Vecchio (via de’ Gondi, 9 am) and also at the base of the monument to the war dead in Piazza dell’Unità (9:45 am).  Between the two tributes, a commemoration will also honor the Sikh casualties which occurred during the Florence’s liberation at the Stazione Leopolda (via Elio Gabbuggiani) at 9:30 am.  The Sikhs were part of the Eighth Indian Division of British Eighth Army, which approached Florence with the American Fifth Army.  At 10 am, a plaque will be unveiled on via Berchet on the corner of Lungo il Mugnone to honor Ettore Gamondi.  Director of the Officine Galileo company which produces scientific instruments and a fierce opponent of the Nazi occupying forces and their Fascist allies, Gamondi was arrested in August 1944, and executed on via Berchet on the day Florence was liberated.

These events will be followed by speeches given by Mayor Dario Nardella and city officials in front of the main entrance to Palazzo Vecchio at 10:30 am.

The afternoon will bring the reopening to the public of the Resistance Fighters Chapel (La Cappella dei Partigiani) after restoration at the Rifredi Cemetery during a ceremony scheduled at 5:30 pm.  The chapel contains tombstones of 188 partisans (or: resistance fighters) whose remains were recuperated where they had been hastily buried on site after armed conflicts in woods and the mountains of Tuscany.  Active in finding this final burial place for his fellow resistence-fighters-in-arms as well as the chapel’s restoration is Leandro Agresti, age 97.  (rosanna cirigliano)