The Flag of Italy

Italy has been in the center of world affairs for over two thousand years. It is the center of Western culture, including religion, education, music, scholarship, art, drama, literature, law and science. However, it’s only in the last few hundred years that the well-known three colors have been used in the flag for the whole country, rather than each individual province or state using their primarily their own flags. Though in use for over 200 years, the flag was only officially adopted in1948. Il Tricolore—the Three Colors The colors of the Italian flag are green, white, and red. These colors have been in use since 1797, and have given the flag of Italy the nickname of “il Tricolore,” the Tricolor. The three colors are arranged in three equal vertical bands with no insignia or coat of arms, which helps distinguish it from the flag of Mexico, which bears the same colors but includes the coat of arms. Italy’s flag comes in part from a complicated relationship with its neighbor, France. The triband design came in use after Italy was inspired by the values of the French revolution, and the three colors made their appearance as a unifying symbol when Napoleon’s army invaded Italy from France in 1797. The colors also come from the flag of Milan, which is red and white, and the green of the uniform of Milan’s civic guard. There are different interpretations of the colors of the flag, though none of them is codified by Italy’s constitution. The green is thought to represent the fertile hills, plains and farmland of Italy, as well as standing for hope. For many people, the white stands for the Alps, the snow-covered mountains in northern Italy, and some see it as standing for faith. The red traditionally stands for the blood spilled in the Wars of Italian Independence, and also for charity or love. Other Italian Flags Italy’s colors have been green, white, and red since 1797, but they have appeared in different configurations. The flag adopted by the Italian Republic in 1802 featured a square banner with a white diamond on a red background, with a green square inside the white diamond. Another flag used soon after was the flag of the Kingdom of Italy, designed in 1805. It had the same square and diamond design, but on a rectangular banner, so the shapes appear to be stretched thin. This flag also has a golden eagle, representing Napoleon, in the center of the green square. Both the Italian Republic and the Kingdom of Italy were under Napoleon’s rule, and remained so until 1814. Between Napoleon’s abdication and Italian independence in 1814, and the end of World War I in 1918, Italy gradually became more and more unified as province after province joined an Italian union. During that century, some provinces delayed in joining the union, and so as independent states, flew their own distinct flags. But even as some province resisted unification, they expressed their Italian loyalty and identity through the design of their flags. All official flags from 1797 on followed the green-white-red color scheme.