April 25 is the July 4 of Italy. It may surprise you to know that this ancient country is actually one of the youngest in the world, and has had a constitution only since January 1, 1948! April 25 is a red-letter day because it was on this day in 1945 that Italy's brave partisans declared it "liberated from Nazi domination." If you are traveling with your kids, a great scavenger hunt could be to look for "Via XXV Aprile," because every Italian village and city has a street by this name. Not many celebrations are held on this date anymore, but it is a national holiday, and since it falls between Easter and May 1 (Labor Day), it is fiercely celebrated as a time to take a little road trip. By the way, if you would like to read a fantastic historic novel about the partisans and their amazing struggle, as well as how the average Italian helped save innocent people from the Nazis, pick up A Thread of Grace for your trans-Atlantic plane ride. It is an unforgettable read.
If, on the other hand, you are in Venice for April 25, you will witness an entirely different celebration,
the one for their patron saint Mark. Indeed, when two clever Venetian merchants smuggled the remains of the
saint out of Alexandria by hiding them in a vat of pork (which the devout Muslim customs inspectors would
not touch), it became an attraction that helped put Venice on the 9th-century map, so to speak. St. Mark's
emblem in early Christian iconography, the winged lion, is still the mascot of Venice to this date. To commemorate
the event, Venetian men give their sweethearts or their moms a red rose: travelers take note!