Italy may be a country that’s full of history, but Italy as a country is quite young – unification of most of the various city-states only happened in 1861, after a series of wars to gain independence from foreign rule, and it would take another decade before the Italy as we know it today really took shape. Still, 1861 is the year recognized as the beginning of an independent and unified Italy, when the first Italian Parliament was assembled and the first King of Italy was declared – which is why 2011 is going to be such a big deal in Italy.
You math wizards out there will have already realized why, but for the rest of us I’ll spell it out – 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, and the country is getting ready for a celebration.
The city of Turin is the center of the 150th anniversary celebrations, as that’s where the first Italian Parliament was held and where Vittorio Emanuele II was named Italy’s first King. In 1861, Rome wasn’t yet part of the newly-unified Italy, so Turin was also the first capital of the country.
Turin and the Piedmont region have been preparing for 2011 for several years, and there are reportedly nine months worth of exhibits and events taking place next year in two different Turin locations – the Venaria Reale and the Officine Grandi Riparazioni. There will be historic exhibits showcasing the past 150 years, and there will also be events highlighting the best of what Italy has to offer today.
The calendar of events for the 150th anniversary celebrations begins in March 2011, and although there will be special events on specific dates from March through November the two Turin sites will be hosting special exhibits the entire nine months. You can see a list of the open hours for the two locations on this page, find out how much tickets cost here, and get information on cultural events, sporting events, and special gatherings from the right-hand menu on this page.
While the website for the 150th anniversary is typically Italian (and therefore a little difficult to find what you want), the bottom line is that if you’ll be anywhere near Turin from March-November of 2011 be sure to ask at the tourism office to find out what’s going on while you’re there. And check the website before you leave to see if it’s been updated with any special events, too.