Italian Alpine troops during the First World War

Emilia-Romagna region of Italy prepares to commemorate First World War Centenary

Posted on on 03 January 2014
Share |

A bill submitted at the end of 2013 seeks to “raise awareness and disseminate information about the events, people and places of memory associated with the First World War” in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

The main outcome of the bill is the establishment of a regional committee to organise and co-ordinate Centenary commemorations.

In a press release issued by the local government, it said that the Centenary is an opportunity to “commemorate the dead – both civilian and military – remember our great heroes, the glorious deeds of our army, and the efforts of ordinary people as part of the Home Front”.

Certain themes featured heavily in the bill, including: solidarity, sacrifice, diplomacy and peace as “the supreme good”.

In particular, the “completion of our [Italy’s] unification”, (as northern regions of modern day Italy fought as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) appears to be a prominent theme the region will highlight.

While no fighting took place in Emilia-Romagna, the local government seeks to commemorate the “lost sons” of the region who fought and died during the conflict.

The consequences of the First World War for Italy socially, economically and politically will be explored. Particular immediate post-war issues cited include the return of maimed and disabled servicemen and the growth in the number of orphans.

While Italy’s turbulent interwar period and the rise of Fascism will also be underscored, the local government states that “the shadows however, must be contrasted with the many lights which stemmed from the carnage”.

Including, “the emergence of an international community, Europeanism, democracy, social justice, the changing role of women and technological progression”.


Italy’s Centenary plans at a national level are already underway. In December 2013, the Senate passed the Stability Bill – Italy’s budget for 2014 – which confirmed Centenary funding.

Emilia-Romagna’s bill has also created a dedicated funding body to finance the commemorative programme in the region.

The local government says that it “intends to fill the gap” between national and local commemorations with the overall objective of “strengthening national spirit and the region’s commitment to the dissemination of peace”.

The Regional Committee to Commemorate the One Hundredth Anniversary of the First World War will consist of nine people, who will prepare a year-on-year set of initiatives in consultation with regional and public bodies, as well as associations and institutions.

Initiatives will include:

-    The erection and restoration of monuments.
-    Funding for museums to develop exhibitions about the conflict.
-    Efforts will be made to restore and recover objects, documentary material and other primary sources from the conflict.
-    The development of a series of conferences, seminars, research projects, concerts and exhibitions about Emilia-Romagna’s role in the First World War.
-    For schools: contests, funding of scholarships and prizes for work or theses relating to the conflict.

The initiatives to commemorate the First World War will begin in 2014 and last until November 2018, but the “official” opening of events will be in May 2015, to mark the Centenary of Italy’s entrance into the conflict.

Source: Emilia-Romagna press release

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News