All about the Italian flag

The Italian flag is known as "il Tricolore" in Italian, referring to the three colours on the flag: green, white and red, which are arranged in three equally sized vertical pales.



The three colours of the Italian flag were chosen by the Cisalpine Republic in 1797 - a Republic created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1796 following the Battle of Lodi (in Lombardy), which went on to become the Italian Republic in 1798. Since the flag of Milan featured a white background with a red cross, the Cisalpine Republic selected those colours, as well as green as this was the colour of the uniform worn by the Milanese civic guard.

Despite its history dating back to the 18th century, it may surprise you to know that the Italian flag as we know it today was only formally adopted by the country in 1948, although it was used informally from 1946 when Italy became a republic. This is because of the rather turbulent history of Italy, which saw its flag vary in its form across the country prior to unification in 1861. For example, the Roman Republic of 1849 had a tricolour flag bearing the words "Dio e Popolo" (God and People), while in 1860 the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies had a tricolour flag bearing a coat of arms. In fact, if you lay out all the variations of the Italian flag, it tells a story of the country's chaotic past, with ever-changing coats of arms depicting who was in power.

However, after World War II, the modern-day Italian flag with the simple tricolour design was adopted at the same time as the adoption of the constitution.


What the colours mean

Although historians agree that the colours of the flag were chosen by the Cispadene Republic after Napoleon's army conquered Milan, throughout time, some have attributed meaning to the colours of the Italian flag, with several interpretations being noted:

  1. The most common interpretation is that green represents Italy's lush countryside, white represents the snow-capped mountains and red represents the bloody wars that took place during the Italian Independence.
  2. A religious interpretation suggests that green represents hope, white represents faith and red represents charity - the three theological values.

In addition, during the Italian Independence, the flag became a symbol of the united efforts of the Italian people towards freedom and independence.

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