The Column of Liberty (La Colonna della Libertà®) came to our area of Umbria recently. It was a re-enactment of the World War 2 liberation of the part of Italy in which we live.
The Column of Liberty
What is The Column of Liberty?
The Column of Liberty is part of the celebrations for the anniversary of the Liberation of Italy on 25 April, 1945. In memory of those historic events, a column of military vehicles dating back to the Second World War parade along the same roads that were used during the Italian Campaign.
Each year, the Column of Liberty takes a different route in a different part of Italy. And in 2021 it came to our area.
The Column comprises a large number of original and restored military vehicles that were involved in the liberation of Italy, all operated by volunteers from various associations and re-enactment groups.
The vehicles included a wide variety of troop transport, jeeps, armoured cars, amphibious vehicles (DUKWS – known as Ducks!), motorbikes, an ambulance and even a few tanks. The volunteers and re-enactors were all dressed in period uniform and costumes.
Programme of Events
The scheduled events took place over three days 18-20 June 2021. On the first day, the column moved from Cortona in Tuscany to Lago Chiusi on the border of Tuscany and Umbria.
On the 19 of June the Column moved from Cortona to Castiglione del Lago in Umbria (where we saw it) and then on to Magione before returning to Cortona. The irony was not lost on me that the 19 June was the date that my small village of Paciano here in Italy was actually liberated.
Just as an aside, it was lucky that among the allied troops who came to Paciano and nearby Panicale were some Maltese soldiers who spoke some Italian. This helped some level of understanding between troops and villagers, even if it was far from plain sailing.
On the third and final day, the Column moved from Cortona to Foiano della Chiana Commonwealth War Cemetery.
On each day they passed through various towns and villages where they were welcomed by large numbers of people. There were various stops on the way, including at Castiglione del Lago where they stopped at the lake and the amphibious vehicles were launched.
Choosing Our Place To Stand and Observe
We selected the Saturday route as the most convenient for us in relation to where we live. Then it was a question of finding somewhere with no crowds and where I could get some good photographs. We selected a roundabout just on the outskirts of Castiglione del Lago. Here, the vehicles would have to slow down and there would be little other traffic.
This short video, shot by Barnet Boy gives an idea of the column as it approached the roundabout where I was waiting with my camera.
A Serious Point
Actually, just a serious point. The Column of Liberty was exciting, but it was also incredibly poignant. It brought a tear to my eye, as this column of military vehicles followed the actual roads they used during the war. It brought home to me the enormity of what took place locally and was incredibly humbling. I had read books and heard stories about the impact of the war on our area. I had even seen videos of troops moving through the area and bombing at Castiglione del Lago. This gave it another dimension.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!