By Alberto Amore
20 regions,110 provinces and 8101 Comuni fought, invaded and resisted each other for thousands of years, only to join together for the final time during the ‘risorgimento’ as ‘La Repubblica Italiana’, ‘The Republic of Italy’ under a single flag, that of the Green, White and Red, known as ‘il Tricolore’.
The flag is seen everywhere in Italy, in the Green fertile mountains, the White wash of the water lining the peninsula and the red of the volcanos. It is in the red and white wines and the mountain fresh mineral water that adorns every table in the country and of course it is in so many meals, the white Pasta, the Red Tomato’s and the fragrant Green Basil that grows wildly on the roadsides. But what do the tricolores really mean and where did they originate from?
Each year January 7th in Italy is Tricolour Day (Festa del Tricolore) or National Flag Day (Giornata Nazionale della Bandiera) when Italy and Italians the world over celebrate their most unifying symbol, the Glorious Red, White and Green of the Italian flag!
The flag of Italy (‘bandiera d’Italia’), is a tricolour featuring three equally sized vertical pales of green, white and red, with the green at the hoist side. Its current form has been in use since 19 June 1946 and was formally adopted on 1 January 1948.
Evidence of human artifacts from 850,000 years ago (not a typo) exist on the Italian Peninsula. Its rich history includes Neanderthal man, modern humans and pre-Roman tribes including Italics such as the Latins and the Umbrians. Italy was constantly under invasion for thousands and years seeing many partial kingdoms emerge, such as the various iterations of the mighty Roman empire and the various KIngdoms such as the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. With this prehistoric disagreement lasting long into modernity however, the Italian Peninsula has only unified three times. Italy was first conquered by the Romans in the third century for 700 years and history repeated when the Holy Roman Empire unified Her in the 5th Century.
The first entity to use the Italian tricolour was the Cispadane Republic in 1797, which supplanted Milan after Napoleon’s victorious army crossed Italy in 1796. The colours chosen by the Cispadane Republic were red and white, which were the colours of the recently conquered flag of Milan and green, which was the color of the uniform of the civic guard. Napoleon who was born on ‘Italian’ soil and conquered what is now modern day Italy sought to give the people its own identity and its own agency. Bonaparte’ pushed to have the Italian flag as it resembled, and partially mimicked his adopted red, white and blue flag of France.
Some have attributed particular values to the colours and a common interpretation is that the green represents the country’s plains and the hills, white, the snow-capped Alps and red, blood spilt in the Wars of Italian Independence. A more religious interpretation is that the green represents hope, the white represents faith and the red represents charity, this references the three theological virtues.
The tricolors have become an internationally recognized brand in their own right. World leading design, an unparalleled eye for beauty and painstaking hand crafted workmanship can be see in the the proud strip that has adorned Ferrari winning world championships, Gucci handbags and dominating the Superbike Racing on a flying Ducati.
Wars have been fought under the Italian flag, the nation victorious over many other nations whilst conversely under the same flag, Italy has been invaded, desecrated and experienced genocide.
For all the bloodshed and for all the loss however, the main reason for any Italian to love the flag is that it is proudly worn on the chest of the four time world cup champion soccer team, The Azzurri! Nothing brings Italy together or sells as many flags as Italy’s national soccer team as in the hearts and minds of Italians their success and failure (which has been outlawed by a passionate nature who follows each world cup campaign like its 40 superbowls), is a very real matter of life and death, albeit a very fragile spirtual one.
In fact soccer is so serious that the winning soccer club in Italy in their domestic competition is awareded an Italian flag crest, called a ‘scudetto’ which signifies that said team, currently Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus, are the reigning title holders.
If you are Italian, don’t wait until January 7 each year, show off those colours every chance you get, after all it took us 850,000 years to make them!
Ideas for showing the tricolours, Surf the internet and Buy (preferably Italian made);
- An Italian tricolore tie
- Tricolore earings
- A Gucci watch
- Gucci anything (almost)
- Buy an Italian car and put an off-centre tricolor stripe over it.
- Buy a tricolore bikini, or one piece
- Wear tricolore pjamas
- Genuine Juventus jersey
- Azzurri (or an national representative team) jersey
- Tricolore Coffee Cups
Alberto Amore is a writer, poet and unabashed waver of the Italian Flag. He owns Tricolore headbands, keyrings, socks, rear view mirror decorations, cufflinks, cake decorations, ribbons, minitaure boxing gloves, numerous Azzuri Football and Rugby League jersey’s, shorts and supporter clothing bearing the tricolore crest, however despite a constant longing, and in memory of an Italy in ruins from the pain of thousands of years in battle, he still doesn’t own an Italian tricolore tie.