It's difficult for an American to even consider having a king and living in a monarchy with a king or queen. (Hear that, Trump?) I mean, it was well over 2oo years ago when the Declaration of Independence was signed and we went to war with the British to get out from under the robes of royal rule. Being ruled under a monarchy has been forgotten from our collective memories.
But for Italians--even though it seems like their "country" has been there 2000 years before the united States, we must be reminded that their many independent city-states were only merged into one Italia by Garibaldi in the late 1800s.
Then, after WWII--when the Nazis and Mussolini and all traces of fascism were at last gone from la Bella Italia--there was another big decision for Italians to make: Did they want a monarchy or a republic? It's a little like the Romans trying to decide between their Republic and the Empire. (FYI, in time, the Roman Empire crumbled...)
So, Italians find themselves each June 2nd celebrating the Festa della Repubblica, the day commemorates the national referendum held in 1946, in which the Italian people went to the polls in record numbers to decide on the form of government they wanted. There were 12,717,923 votes cast for a republic against 10,719,284 for the monarchy.
You see, up until that point, Italy had been ruled by the House of Savoy, one of the oldest royal families in the world. Their royal family started way back in 1003 AD in the Savoy region of Italy, and reached a kingly level in 1713. A branch of the family, the House of Savoy from Carignano ruled from the Unification in 1861 until June 2nd, 1946 when Italians decided they wanted to have a say in their own future.
The Savoyard Kings of Italy were Victor Emmanuel II, Umberto I, Victor Emmanuel III, and Umberto II. The last monarch ruled only for a few weeks before being deposed following the Constitutional Referendum of 1946, after which the Italian Republic was proclaimed. After the election, all male descendants of the House of Savoy were sent into exile.
Festa della Repubblica is celebrated on June 2nd each year with as much fanfare as Americans on Independence Day. A huge military parade is held in Rome with the Tricolori (tri-color) flag represented by colorful aerial displays over the Eternal City. Most Italian towns and villages also have festive celebrations on this day.
Many point out that Italy is not as cohesive a nation as they could be, with some regions getting more perks than others, and with more people speaking their regional dialect than any official "Italian" language. But consider that over 23 million Italians came out to vote for the Republic in 1946... they might not have known it then, but they were finally becoming una nazione unita...