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Flag of Italy
The Flag of Italy, also known as Tricolore, is a tricolour containing three vertical bands of green, white, and red (left, or hoist side, to right). Together with the national anthem, La Canzone degli Italiani (better known as Fratelli d'Italia) is the symbol of Italy.
Meanings of Colours
The colours represent the three cardinal virtues:
Similarities to other Flags
Given its derivation from the flag of France, Italian tricolore is similar to all the flags that have the same origin. Among the others, the Italian flag is similar to the Flag of Ireland, which is green, white and orange, and is the opposite of the Côte d'Ivoire flag, which is orange, white and green. It shows also resemblance with the flag of Mexico.
Pre-unitarian flags (until 1848)
1798 - flag of the "Repubblica Cisalpina"
1802 - flag of the Napoleonic "Repubblica Italiana"
1805 - flag of the Napoleonic "Regno d'Italia"
As the case of other flags, also this flag was derived by the flag of France, adopted with the French Revolution of 1789. When, in 1796, the French Army led by Napoleon Bonaparte entered into Italy, both the new republics (Repubblica Transpadana) and the military group attached to French army adopted the flags similar to the Italian tricolour. Probably, the colors have been chosen according to Legione Lombarda flag: it summed Milan city colors (red and white) to the green of Milan Civic Guard uniforms. The same colors were adopted by the Legione Italiana, formed by soldiers coming from Emilia and Romagna.
The first Italian tricolour was adopted on 7 January, 1797, in Reggio Emilia, as official flag of the Repubblica Cispadana (Cispadane Republic). It was a horizontal tricolour, with red (top), white and green stripes; in the middle, an emblem composed by a quiver, accolade to a war trophy, with four arrows that symbolized the four provinces forming the Po federation; all within a crown of bay.
The Repubblica Cispadana and the Repubblica Transpadana merged into the Repubblica Cisalpina (Cisalpine Republic), which adopted the vertical Italian tricolour without emblem in 1798, even if in a square shape. The flag was mantained until 1802, after the republic was renamed Repubblica Italiana (Italian Republic); in 1802 a new square flag was adopted, with a red field carrying a white rhombus and a green square in the middle of the white rhombus.
After Napoleon became emperor, in 1805, the Repubblica Italiana was turned into Regno d'Italia (Kingdom of Italy), ruled by Napoleon himself; the flag of the Regno d'Italia was the Repubblica Italiana flag in rectangular shape, with Napoleon's eagle on the central white square. This flag was in use until the abdication of Napoleon, in 1814.
Independence and Kingdom of Italy
1848-49 - flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
1848-49 - flag of the Republic of Venice
1849 - flag of the "Repubblica Romana"
1860-61 - flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Between the 1848 and 1861, a sequence of events led to the independence and unification of Italy (apart Venetian region, Rome, and Trento and Trieste, which were united to Italy in 1866, 1870 and 1918 respectively); this period is known as Risorgimento. Throught all this period, the tricolore was the symbol which united all the efforts of the Italian people towards freedom and independence.
As regards Italian flag history, 1848 is a very important year, since many states in Italy changed their flags to reflect the commitment of all Italians to their motherland independence.
The Italian tricolour was adopted as war flag of Kingdom of Sardinia army: it contained Savoy royal house's coat of arms in the white stripe. In his Proclamation to Lombard-Venetian people, Charles Albert of Savoy said that … in order to show more clearly with exterior signs the commitment to Italian unification, we [Charles Albert] want that our tropps … have the Savoy shield superimposed on the Italian tricolour flag.
In the same year, the Granducato di Toscana (Grand Duchy of Tuscany) became constitutional, and dropped the Austrian flag with Austria-Lorraine great coat of arms, in favour of the Italian tricolour with a simplified coat of arms.
The flag of the Regno delle Due Sicilie (Kingdom of the Two Sicilies), which was white with the Borbonic seal in the middle, was modified through the addition of a red and green border. This flag lasted from April 3 1848 to May 19 1849.
In the same year, Venetian people revolted against Austrian government, declaring the birth of the Venice Republic. The flag adopted marked the link to Italian independence and unification efforts; It was the Italian tricolour with, in the upper green canton, a white rectangle bordered with green/white/red colours and charged with the golden St. Mark's lion.
Kingdom of Italy - 1860-1861
In 1860, a new version of the flag of the Regno delle Due Sicilie was adopted: the Italian tricolour with Borbonic seal on the white stripe. Adopted on June 21 1860, dismissed in March 1861, with the kingdom being incorporated into Regno d'Italia (Kingdom of Italy).
The Italian tricolour with Savoy's coat of arms was the Italian flag for 85 years, until the fall of the royal house of Italy.
In its current form, the Italian flag was adopted on 1 January 1948, with the introduction of the republican constitution, and the end of the rule of the House of Savoy over Italy. The Italian Constitution states (art. 12) that "The flag of the republic is the Italian tricolor: green, white and red, in three vertical stripes of the same dimension;" the universally adopted ratio is 2:3, while the war flags are squared.
In March 2003, after 207 years in service, its colours have been specified, and now the official pantone colors are 18-5642 TC (green), 11-4201 TC (white) and 18-1660 TC (red).
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