ROME, June 2 (Xinhua) -- Italy's traditional Republic Day celebrations were held on Friday in Rome, marking the 77th anniversary of the 1946 referendum in which Italians chose to abandon the monarchy and become a republic. The country's leaders said the nation's past challenges prepared it for future challenges.
The day's festivities included a traditional flyover of air force jets dramatically trailing smoke in the green, white and red colors of the national flag and a military parade in the shadow of the Colosseum.
Italy's President Sergio Mattarella laid a traditional laurel wreath with a three-color ribbon at the Altar of the Fatherland.
Mattarella, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, most cabinet ministers, and the mayors of more than 300 Italian cities and towns attended the festivities, which attracted dense crowds and was broadcast nationally on television networks and online.
Italy's Ministry of Culture said that museums and other cultural sites would be open free of charge on Friday, and the gardens of the Quirinale Palace -- the seat of the Presidency of the Republic -- were open to the public.
This year Italy is also marking the 75th anniversary of the entry into force of the country's Constitution.
"Freedom, equality, solidarity, respect for the rights of individuals and communities are fundamental pillars of our Constitutional Charter," Mattarella said.
Meloni said the day was "a symbol of national unity and the identity of the Italian people."