The flag of Italy, or the Bandiera d’italia is a tri-color flag with three equally sized vertical stripes of green, white and red. The green stripe is always placed at the hoist side (side nearest the flag pole). The current flag of Italy has been in use since June of 1946, when Italy became a Republic, and was formally adopted on January 1, 1948. The colors were first adopted by the military in 1796, but it didn’t fly as a civilian flag until 1797 when, with its arms and crown in the center, it was adopted by the Cispadane Republic – a short-lived republic in northern Italy. When Italy became a Republic in 1946, it adopted the tri-color flag without the coat of arms. In its present form, its been the flag of Italy for a short period of time.
As is with most flags in nations around the world, there is much meaning in their design, and the flag of Italy is no different. To say that the Italians take the meaning of their flag seriously is an understatement! When President Silvio Berlusconi tried to introduce a subtle change of color, he was accused of attempting a “chromatic coup d’etat”. Many people were furious. So infuriated that the country considered a national referendum to allow the public to choose the right shades. Berlusconi abandoned his idea and the referendum was never acted upon.
As has already been explained, the colors on the flag of Italy hold great significance for the nation. Some people say that the flag has religious symbolism while others state that is representative of traits of the Country. The colors also have a military meaning which is that they are based on the colors of Milan (red and white) and the Milanese civic guard (green). The most popular explanation of the flag’s colors, which has been accepted as fact by many, is that the colors resemble Italy itself: white for the snowy Alps and other mountain regions; green for the plains and the hills; and red for the blood spilt in the Italian wars of independence. There is also a religious interpretation in that green symbolizes hope, white stands for faith and red represents charity. Many prefer a more romantic explanation, and that comes across in many ways, especially with their food. You will see the colors of the flag of Italy featured in everything from ice cream to pizza and salads. Two examples of food with these colors, are the Pizza Margherita which uses white mozzarella cheese, green basil and red tomatoes; and the Caprese Salad. The Caprese Salad also contains tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. If there is any other color included in this salad, then it is not a true Caprese.
If flying the flag of Italy with other national flags, the flag of Italy takes the position of honor and other flags are arranged in alphabetical order.
Protocols of Italy’s flag are similar to protocols observed in the United states. For example. The flag is not allowed to touch the ground or be dropped into water, it should not be flown during bad weather, and is always treated with dignity.