• 2019.11.07
  • Honoring the Alpine troops
In my last blog I introduced Savona, Genoa’s sister city, and I mentioned that the town was preparing for a big event: the arrival of thousands of Alpine troops and veterans.
The Alpine troops arrived in Savona this past 10th of October, ready to take part in the gathering of the first grouping of Liguria, Piedmont, Valle d'Aosta and France. The city prepared for this event by organizing a flag-raising ceremony in Piazza Mameli, the town’s main square where there is a memorial for the fallen in the world wars. For this occasion, a band played on the square in the morning and, following that, the Alpine coordinator of the Savona group had a public speech recalling the precious role the Alpine troops had in the world wars. There were moments of great and solemn remembrance, songs and choirs, but also smiles and spontaneous moments of celebration: this is what the city expected for the day. The shop windows, at least more than a hundred of them, were “dressed” for the occasion and displayed many Italian flags of all sizes and shapes, Alpine memorabilia of all sorts, military boots and edelweiss flowers (symbol of the Alps and therefore recalling the Alpine troops).
Also all around the city there was a display of Italian flags on monuments, bridges, columns and railings.
In the evening, the groups held military choirs at the Chiabrera theater and offered free admission based on availability while in the afternoon the city council awarded “the Alpine of the year” prize for the past year 2018.
The bars and cafés around town got well organized with stocks of red wine and spirits since the troops have the well-deserved reputation of being heavy drinkers.
The highlight of the day was the day when the Alpine troops gathered together to kick off the official celebrations by raising a huge national flag in the square of the harbor area and organized into groups to parade across the town.
They then walked for five kilometers across the different neighborhoods in town, honoring the flag, singing, marching, playing the fanfare, doing the salute and meeting the locals.
The different troops wore different uniforms and performed their choirs or played musical instruments, some performed with weapons and some groups even had mules with them.
The mule was indeed a precious animal during the wars and the Alpine troops used these animals to carry their provisions and weapons.
At the end of the official parade, the party started with activities and shops open just for them until 10 p.m., and obviously many more choirs: four held at the Chiabrera theater, as previously mentioned, others spontaneously organized in different locations and corners of the city. One of the biggest choirs was the Montebianco choir of Genoa. Founded in 1957, the choir aims at reviving the magical mountain atmosphere on the sea with a special imprint that is the ability to combine, in the contents of the song, the mountain, the Alpine regions, the sea and the ever-present religious sentiment. The big closing party, at midnight, saw the four main choirs meeting with the traveling Fanfare band in Piazza Mameli. Here the hymn of Mameli (the Italian national anthem) was performed. A city alive until late at night to plunge into the atmosphere of the ‘black feathers’ and relive with them, through the choirs, some of the moments that belonged to the Alpine history and tradition. An event that left its mark on the city and saw the arrival of twenty thousand people in a town of only sixty thousand souls.

Parading with the mules


  • Patrizia Margherita
  • Jobtranslator, interpreter, teacher

Although she was born in Italy, she is half Italian and half American and she has become a "multicultural person" who can speak five languages. She has lived and worked in the US, Brazil, Australia, France and the UK so she considers herself a citizen of the world. When she is not teaching or translating, she likes cooking Italian food, hiking and traveling around the world...She has traveled to 80 countries and counting!

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