Flag of Italy: History and Meaning

Popularly known as the tricolor, the flag of the current Republic of Italy dates from the year 1946, at the end of the Second World War. Since 1948, when this flag was finally officially declared a patriotic symbol, the Italian National Flag Day has been celebrated on January 7.

It is thought that its design is based on the model of the French flag, because in 1796 Napoleon had chosen to give it as a standard to a corps of Lombard legionnaires who had united with the French forces. However, it was in 1848 that he was recognized as an official ensign by King Charles-Albert of Sardinia (also called Charles-Albert of Savoy). As tradition required, the House of Savoy added its royal coat of arms on the central band, with a crown above.

When the monarchy fell after World War II, the coat of arms and crown were removed. The design of the vertical bands and its colours, green, white and red, make the Italian standard quite similar to the Mexican flag but they do not have the same dimensions and the Italian flag does not have a coat of arms on the central band. The proportions of the Italian flag are 2:3.

It is composed of three equal vertical bands respectively green, white and red, from left to right. As is the case with many other flags, there are different explanations regarding the choice of colors. One of the most accepted is the resemblance to the French flag and the defense of the ideas of equality and freedom during the revolution, but on the Italian flag these two natural human rights would be represented by the color green.

Other versions claim that colors represent feelings. Green would represent the hope of a united and free Italy; white, faith and red, love and bloodshed. A final explanatory version associates them with the riches of the territory: the green would then represent the fields and plains of Lombardy; the white, the snows of the Alps and the red, the volcanic lava.

The use of the Italian flag is governed by article 12 of the constitution. It is pointed out that the flag must fly with dignity because it represents the people, that it must be hoisted and lowered with respect. It should also be raised as soon as the sun rises and lowered as soon as it sets, unless bad weather warrants lowering it early. It can also float at night, if it is well lit and cannot get wet or touch the ground. On Italian territory, he must occupy the position of honor on the left, seen from the front, the rest of the flags being placed side by side, in alphabetical order, all of the same size and at the same height. The flag may be decorated with a gold band along the entire rim.