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How well do you know your history? I suspected something was up yesterday when a single fighter jet kept making passes over the Foro Romano. Today confirmed it, as the Via Fori Imperialli was barricaded this morning as I walked to university for an exam. Just as I was getting to Trajan’s forum, Italian military jets do a low fly-over trailing smoke in the Italian national tricolore.
Still, there was little beyond that, and I moved on to my exam, after which I enjoyed a well earned siesta for the first time in weeks. After napping, I decided to try for a passagata and found my way to the Spanish steps to sit in the rays of the setting sun as I people-watched and pretended to study. Just as the sun dipped beneath the buildings, a military band marched up, cleared the first level of steps, and began a free concert that lasted for an hour.
The occasion? Surely you have guessed it by now. On this day in 1918, Italy defeated the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the battle of Vittorio Veneto, effectively ending World War I – a week later the armistice with Germany was signed. According to some commentators, just as the civil war was the last battle of the American revolution, some saw Vittorio Veneto/WWI as the last battle for Italian Risorgimento which had officially been completed with the 1870 conquest of papal Rome.