Last Updated on May 3, 2021 by Helga Dosa
Can you name the colors of the Italian flag? Think of 10 countries whose flags you know and, most likely, Italy is among them.
Italian flag and national pride
So, what made the Italian flag so popular? It’s the restaurants and eateries selling pizza, pasta, and gelato worldwide. They somehow “invaded” the world, bring the colors of the country to the planet.
What’s weird is the reactions and feeling of Italians. In fact, they are not as proud of their flag as Americans are of the Stars & Stripes. It’s rare to see a house with an Italian flag on the front porch. However, Italians would never destroy their flag. No one would feel comfortable in damaging this symbol.
Furthermore, in Italy it is forbidden to burn, destroy or damage the flag.
The law on the Italian flag
This is the law in its native language:
Art. 292 (Vilipendio o danneggiamento alla bandiera o ad altro emblema dello Stato). – Chiunque vilipende con espressioni ingiuriose la bandiera nazionale o un altro emblema dello Stato é punito con la multa da euro 1.000 a euro 5.000. La pena é aumentata da euro 5.000 a euro 10.000 nel caso in cui il medesimo fatto sia commesso in occasione di una pubblica ricorrenza o di una cerimonia ufficiale. ) Chiunque pubblicamente e intenzionalmente distrugge, disperde, deteriora, rende inservibile o imbratta la bandiera nazionale o un altro emblema dello Stato é punito con la reclusione fino a due anni.”
The translation, although not literal
Whoever damages or offends the national flag with epithets will get a 1.000-5.000 euro fine. The fine will increase to 5.000-10.000 euro if this fact is happens during a festivity or a public, official ceremony. Anyone who publicly and intentionally destroys, throws away, damaged, makes useless, or stains the national flag will be punished with a 2-year sentence in jail.
Hence, no harm of any kind can come to the Italian flag.
The Italian Flag during the decades
Many design changes affected the Italian flag throughout history. In fact, the story of the flag represents and portraits the history of the country. All the way to the final chapter. Eventually, it led to the unification of the Italian people under one nation in 1861.
The 18th and 19th century
In the late 18th century, several Italian regions adopted a tricolor flag of green, white, and red. The inspiration of the tricolor came from France. In the late 1700s, Napoleon controlled northern Italy. The French army occupied most of the country
The Cisalpine Republic officially adopted the Italian tricolor in 1798. It was a square-shaped flag, with three vertical lines to represent the colors.
In 1802, the Italian Republic was born. This was a Napoleonic state which included the North of Italy. It might be easy to mistake it with the modern Italian Republic. Except, this was a whole different story. While the colors remained, the design change a bit, although it was still a square. The flag of the Italian Republic was red with a white rhombus in the center and a green square in the middle of the white.
Three years later, the Italian Republic of Napoleon became the Kingdom of Italy, when the French conquistador became emperor. This time around, the square became a rectangular. Plus, Napoleon’s eagle was in the center. This flag remained in use during Napoleon’s rule, which lasted until 1814.
The road to unification
The Italian states were not widely united under one flag again until the year of 1848. That’s when the tricolor flag became the national Italian flag. And it featured with vertical stripes of red, white, and green. Plus, the coat of arms of the Savoia family was displayed in the center.
Both the Venetian and Roman regions later adopted similar flags. This step symbolized the road to unification of the Italian states.
Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy in 1872. To mark this historical event, a crown was added To the center of the flag. King Vittorio Emanuele II made the change, while Savoia’s coat of arms remained. At least until 1946, when Italy officially ended the monarchy.
To mark this historical event, the flag consisted only of the red, white, and green vertical stripes. No extra logos nor figures.
This is still the national flag of Italy. But why these colors?
Colors of the Italian Flag
As you remember, the inspiration came from the French flag. Although the color blue was replaced by the green of Milan’s Civic Guard.
Three colors, two interpretations.
The first believes that green symbolizes hope, white represents faith, and red signifies charity. The second interpretation says that green is the symbol of the Italian landscape. While the color white represents the snow-capped Alps and red the bloodshed. The blood spilled for the independence of Italy.
What’s sure is that all of these symbols embody unity and nationalism among the Italian people.
Must watch: the Italian flag in modern days
After the dark years of Fascism, this national symbol has become even more important. It represents the unity and hope of Italians. Indeed, the flag can still make people cry. At least, tear up a little.
Le Frecce Tricolori, love from the army
A ceremony for the 2021 World Championships of Ski in Cortina.
The flag at half mast for national mourning
Most recently, for the murder of Italian representatives during an attack in Congo.
Yes, the Italian flag is still a powerful symbol, even after centuries.