ISLAMABAD-Italian ambassador to Pakistan Stefano Pontecorvo on Wednesday hosted a well-attended reception to mark his country’s National Day or Festa della Repubblica.

The Republic Day is celebrated on June 2 but the Italian embassy scheduled it few days later due to Eid holidays.

The reception was attended by ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, diplomats and journalists.

Stefano Pontecorvo said that the Republic Day was a day off work for many people in Italy. The events included official ceremonies, military parades and laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, inside the Altare della Patria in Rome.

Outside Italy, many Italian diplomats in embassies celebrate this day worldwide, he said.

On June 2, 1946, many Italians had voted in a referendum to get rid of the monarchy and for the country to become a republic. The public was hostile to the monarchy, which had supported Benito Mussolini’s rule. Around that time, the Italian royal family was also exiled from Italy.

Each year, a wreath is laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Republic Day. The tomb, which also has an eternal flame, was added to the one of Italy’s largest national monuments, Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland), on November 4, 1921. However, the tomb, which was designed by sculptor Alberto Sparapani, was not completed until 1924.

Prior to the foundation of the Republic, the Italian national day was the first Sunday in June, anniversary of the granting of the Statuto Albertino. From 1977 to 1999, due to economic reasons, this was the date of the celebrations for the 1946 foundation of the republic. 2 June date became official in 2000. The parade was held in Turin in 1961 to mark the centennial year of Italian unification.

Stefano Pontecorvo said that his country wanted to enhance ties with Pakistan in all fields. “We have friendly ties with Pakistan and want to improve them further. There are so many Pakistanis living in Italy and contributing towards the development,” he added.