Each year on 2 June, Italy commemorates Republic Day in memory of the institutional referendum of 1945 which allowed Italians to choose their country’s form of government.
This moment marked the exit of King Umberto II of Savoy and his family and the birth of a new Republic.
What happened to the Italian crown jewels? What happened to all the official and private jewels of the altars, sacred statues, the gold and precious items that the Savoy family donated to the Church?
They escaped the clutches of the Germans who wanted them in Berlin and were hidden in a safety deposit box inside the Bank of Italy, and finally walled in a niche underneath the Quirinal.
This small treasure chest, consisting of a three-tiered black leather case with blue velvet lining, is today valued at over 1.5 billion euros, with more than 1200 carats of diamonds, precious stones and pearls. The contents are known to only a few because the chest has never been opened. Photographs were taken and it was then closed with twelve seals.
The chest can only be opened in the presence of the President of the Republic and the Governor of the Bank of Italy.
The jewels consist of the Ferrea Crown (the Iron Crown of Lombardy), the Choker of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation and a couple of bracelets with rectangular links, made in 1868 with diamonds set in gold and silver.