A Sea of Black Feathers in Vicenza – The 2024 National Gathering of the Alpini

From May 10th to May 12th, 2024, the city of Vicenza transformed into a sea of Black Feathers, hosting the 95th National Gathering of the Alpini (aka Alpine Troops). An event of great significance for the Italian community, it served as a moment of remembrance, cohesion, and identity, drawing hundreds of thousands of people to the city.

Alpini Vicenza

Black Feathers

The Alpini are called “Black Feathers” due to the characteristic feathered headgear they wear, known as the “alpine hat” or “Alpine cap.” This headgear is adorned with a black feather from the capercaillie, hence the nickname “Black Feathers.”

The origin of this nickname dates back to the period of the First World War when the Alpini, renowned for their skill and courage in mountain warfare, wore the feathered hat with a black feather. During their exploits in the Alps, the black feather became a symbol of pride and distinction for the Alpine Troops.

The appellation “Black Feathers” has thus become synonymous with valor, determination, and spirit of sacrifice, attributes that the Alpini have demonstrated in the most challenging moments of Italian history. Today, this nickname is still used to recognize and honor the Alpini and their contribution to the defense of the country and its values.

© National Alpini Association

The origins of the Alpini: Born from the mountains, heroes of Italy

The Alpini originated as a military unit of the Italian Army, officially established on October 15, 1872, with the purpose of training specialized troops for the defense of mountainous borders. This decision stemmed from the Kingdom of Italy’s need to protect its mountainous frontiers, especially after the liberation of the Veneto region in 1866, when a new defense model along the border with the Austro-Hungarian Empire became necessary.

The Alpine Troops represent the oldest active mountain infantry corps in the world, with a long and illustrious history of service. In 1919, in Milan, the Italian Alpine Association was founded, and the first National Gathering took place in September 1920 on Monte Ortigara in Vicenza, a symbolic location of the Great War and the exploits of the Alpine Troops during that conflict.

In addition to their military skills, the Alpini are also known for their values: brotherhood, loyalty, respect for the mountains, and love for the homeland. These values are passed down from generation to generation and form the basis of the cohesive Alpine identity.

Vicenza, an alpine city in the heart of the Veneto region

The choice of Vicenza as the host city for the 2024 edition is not random. The city boasts a deep connection with the Alpine Troops, dating back to World War I when Vicenza served as the headquarters of the Supreme Command of the Royal Army and from where troops departed for the front lines. This bond has strengthened over time, making Vicenza a true “alpine city” in the heart of the Veneto region.

Tradition and Innovation: The Themes of the 2024 Gathering

The Vicenza Gathering provided an opportunity to celebrate the history and traditions of the Alpini while also looking towards the future. Among the main themes of the event were the valorization of the mountains and their territories, environmental protection, and the promotion of the values of solidarity and brotherhood that have always distinguished the Alpini.

A Record-Breaking Edition

The Vicenza Gathering has recorded record-breaking numbers: over 500,000 attendees including Alpine Troops, family members, supporters, and citizens. It was a special edition also due to its symbolic significance, coinciding with the centenary of the first National Gathering, held in Trento in 1924.

An Unforgettable Experience

The Vicenza Gathering was an unforgettable experience for all who participated. It was an opportunity to relive history, forge new bonds, and strengthen the sense of belonging to a unique community like that of the Alpini. An event that left an indelible mark on the city of Vicenza and will continue to live on in the memories of all who experienced it.

The National Alpini Gathering is not just a folklore event but represents a moment of great historical and cultural value. To fully understand its significance, it’s necessary to take a step back in time and trace the history of the Alpine Corps.

The Gathering: A Moment of Remembrance and Identity

The National Alpini Gathering was born in 1919 as an opportunity to remember the fallen and celebrate Alpini values. Over the years, it has become a true pilgrimage for the Alpine Troops and all those who feel connected to this military corps and its ideals. A moment to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood, relive memories of the past, and look to the future with unity and cohesion.

Alpini - black feathers hat

The Vicenza Edition and the Centenary of the First Gathering

The Vicenza Gathering held special significance, coinciding with the centenary of the first National Gathering, which took place in Trento in 1924. An important milestone that made the participation and emotion of all the Alpine Troops even more heartfelt.

The National Alpine Gathering had a significant impact on the city of Vicenza in several ways:

Organization and Logistics:

  • Impeccable organization by the Municipality of Vicenza and the National Alpine Association, who worked for months to welcome the numerous participants.
  • Well-planned security and logistics measures ensured the smooth running of the event and the safety of all attendees.
  • A significant organizational effort to manage the influx of people, transportation, accommodation, and support services.

Economic Impact:

  • A significant injection of resources into the local economy: hotels, restaurants, shops, and businesses experienced a considerable increase in revenue.
  • Creation of temporary job opportunities for event organization and management.
  • Touristic promotion of the city of Vicenza on a national and international level.

Social and Cultural Impact:

  • A moment of great celebration and sharing for the city of Vicenza, which enthusiastically welcomed the Alpine Troops and their families.
  • An opportunity for interaction and dialogue among different generations and cultures.
  • Promotion of Alpine values of solidarity, brotherhood, and love for the mountains.


The Vicenza Gathering stirred great emotion and participation from all attendees. Alpini, family members, and citizens expressed their enthusiasm and gratitude for this unique event:

An unforgettable experience that allowed me to relive the values and traditions of the Alpine Troops. (An Alpine Troop)

An opportunity to be together with my family and to introduce my children to the history and traditions of the Alpini. (A citizen of Vicenza)

An event that brought so much good to our city, both economically and socially. (A merchant)

An Indelible Mark on Vicenza

The Vicenza Gathering was an extraordinary success, once again demonstrating the importance of the Alpine Troops and their values to the Italian community. An event that left an indelible mark on the city and will continue to live on in the memories of all who experienced it.

The last day, Sunday, May 12th, marked the closure of an extraordinary, record-breaking edition. For the historical and architectural splendor of the city, for the warmth of the people’s welcome, for the springtime sunshine, and above all, for the grandeur of the parade, which lasted for thirteen hours, from 9 in the morning until late evening, with the flag-lowering ceremony occurring after 10:30 PM.

Associazione Nazionale Alpini

Sebastiano Favero, the national president of ANA (Associazione Nazionale Alpini), who has been a protagonist in dozens of Gatherings, recognized in the one in Vicenza all the qualities necessary to consecrate it as one of the best in recent years.

We have experienced splendid days,” he commented, “in a land like Vicenza, which is closely linked to the Alpine Troops, to their history, sublimated in the four Shrines on the mountains around the city, Pasubio, Cimone, Asiago, and Cima Grappa. The people responded in a moving way, rallying around the black feathers. And this reassures us in continuing to operate with an unchanged spirit of service to the community. For this reason,” he added, “ANA has always supported the institution of mandatory service, even for a few months, for all young people, so that they can develop civic sense, a sense of belonging, and experience the importance of sharing intentions and tasks for the benefit of others.”

Patrizia Vigolo

Wine Editor

Ciao a tutti! My name is Patrizia and I live in Vicenza located in the beautiful Veneto region. I am an AIS sommelier and WSET 3 certified. I have more than 10 years’ experience in the wine industry as sales director for several Italian wineries. Outside of work, I love to visit wineries, read, cook, travel, and spend time with my family. I love wine for many different reasons. One of the main reasons is that wine makes people meet and share experiences.: A glass of wine with friends, family or colleagues can make your day. In a glass of wine there is a story: the story of a family, tradition, and territory. I think a glass of wine can be an endless story to discover. You will never, and I say never, find two wines similar. I love to think that for every single situation, there is the right wine. Follow me if you want to learn more about Italian wines and tips about the amazing wine world. Cin Cin!

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