April 25 is an important day and a national holiday in Italy, marking the end of WWII, the fall of the Fascist regime and the liberation from German troops that still occupied much of Northern Italy in the final days of the war.
This event is considered particularly important in Milan, which was the place where the final insurrection against the fascists started. It was in Milan and close to it where many of the events surrounding that fateful day happened, culminating with the escape attempt, capture and execution of Mussolini.
Because of this, many celebrations are held in major and smaller Italian cities, but nowhere with such participation as in Milan. Every year, the main event is the march that takes tens of thousands of people across the center of the city, ending in its heart, Piazza Duomo.
While the march has a political significance and is mostly participated by leftist organizations, workers and students unions, it is a colorful, joyous, peaceful event that is open to everyone. It is quite common to see there classes, marching bands, and whole families with children and strollers.
In this year 2022, two months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many thoughts were about this war-ravaged country that, just like Italy almost 80 years ago, was occupied by a foreign army. It is not surprising, therefore, that most eyes were set on a large group of Ukrainians, mostly young people and likely students, immigrants, or refugees, who were carrying a giant blue-and-yellow flag and chanting “Slava, Slava, Slava Ukraini” (Glory, Glory, Glory to Ukraine).
As the march slowly makes it way through the streets of Milan, to us photographers it provides an endless stream of interesting and colorful subjects that are there to be heard, seen, and photographed.
This year, we took our Passionate Street and Urban Photography Workshop class to attend the march. At first, our students seemed a bit overwhelmed by the size of the crowd and not really sure about what they could really do, but after a few minutes everyone saw how welcoming the marchers were and threw themselves into the middle of the action, happily snapping photos from up close, exchanging smiles and waving. Almost everybody wanted to stay until the last of the marchers had reached Piazza Duomo, had packed their flags and drums, and left.
All in all, this was a wonderful experience and one that will certainly be repeating every year. If you’d like to know more about next year’s workshop, you can click here.
Below are some of the photos I took on that day. Here’s hoping to see you in Milan next year, for another Liberation Day!