stemmi comuni italiani

Flags and coats of arms of Italian municipalities

Already in other articles in our magazine we have talked about the importance and value of a flag,or a coat of arms, as a symbol that becomes a vector of the  history  and  culture of a people or simply of a group / aggregation of people.

The flag, and its coat of arms, are symbols that communicate a set of values, a sense of belonging and identity on the part of those who exhibit them, and this is for the most “simple” demonstration of attachment to his sports team by a fan, up to the deepest values that can be linked to a national flag,  symbol of culture and history of an entire people. 

Between these two examples, there are countless realities and as many ways in which flags and coats of arms are used precisely to enclose that sense of belonging, ideology, identification just mentioned or to simply emphasize one’s cultural identity.

And speaking of the national flag,when in thearticle on the history and meaning of the ItalianTricolor  we retraced its origins, it emerged precisely the nature of the flag as a symbol of the history lived by a country, and in our case a story that contains the interweaving of realities and kingdoms also very different, ended up becoming a real united state under a single national flag.

The history and the past of those countless realities today has far from disappeared, traces remain in the flags  and  coats of arms of the Italian municipalities,all united to form our Italy, but each proud of its own singular history that re-emerges in a detail or in an element of the symbol of the city, the province and the region.

Outside the Municipalities of the Provinces and Regions of the Italian, in fact, next to the Italian and European flags, very often we also find the flag with the coat of arms of the Municipality, Province and Region,precisely a symbol that contains the history of that specific territory.

The coats of arms of the Municipalities in detail are still extremely important today and in fact these, like the national flag, are subject to precise rules, specific regulatory provisions.

The rules for flags and coats of arms of Italian municipalities

The first major regulatory intervention regarding the coats of arms of Italian municipalities has ancient origins and dates back to 1896 when, through the Royal Decree n.314 of July 5, the “Heraldic Book of Moral Bodies” was established which for the first time indicated specific canons for the civic coats of arms of the Peninsula and on which all the decrees granting coatsof arms are still reportedtoday,   banners,  seals  and  flags to local and moral authorities.

Subsequently, the specific characteristics and the rules establishing municipal flags and coats of arms are indicated with a more modern legislation, art. 5 of the Prime Ministerial Decree of 28 January 2011.

First of all, the elements  that make up the coat of arms of an Italian municipalityare indicated. These coats of arms are in fact always made up of a shield  and, even in the case of provinces and municipalities awarded the title of city, a  crown placed above the shield.

The shield  must then follow specific rules, for example only the one called “modern sannico” can be used, a rectangular shield with rounded lower corners that must maintain a proportion of 7 modules wide by 9 modules high.

The crown also follows specific directives. In fact, it can be of different types, depending on the degree of the body depicted by the coat of arms. The crown used for the Provinces, for example, is “made up of a circle of gemified gold with smooth creases at the edges, enclosing two branches, one of laurel and one of oak, natural, coming out of the crown, decussed and falling outwards”. 

Different is the crown used for the municipalities awarded the title of “city” which presents a “turreted crown, formed by a golden circle opened by eight pusterles (five visible) with two wall cordonates on the margins, supporting eight towers (five visible), joined by curtain walls, all of gold and walled in black”.

Finally, the Municipalities instead must use “a crown formed by a circle opened by four pusterles (three visible), with two wall cords on the margins, supporting a wall, open by sixteen doors (nine visible), each surmounted by a dovetail battlements, all silver and walled in black”.

The rules and specifications do not stop only at the coats of arms of italianmunicipalities, but also extend to the banners of the same  which, as happens for flags that follow strict rules,are the subject of specific rules related to measures and provision.

In detail, according to the Prime Ministerial Decree, the banner  must “consist of a rectangular drape of cm. 90×180, of the colour of one or all of the enamels of the coat of arms. This is suspended by means of a movable balance to a rod covered with velvet of the same color, with bullets placed in a spiral, and terminated at the tip by an arrow, on which the coat of arms will be reproduced, and on the stem the name of the institution.

The adorned and fringed banner is loaded, in the center, of the coat of arms of the institution, surmounted by the centered inscription (convex upwards) of the institution itself.

The fringed tie must consist of tricolored ribbons in national colors.

For practice, the metal parts, as well as the embroideries, cords, inscription and spiral bullets of the banner must be silver for the coats of arms of the municipality or gold for the coats of arms of the province and the municipality awarded the title of city.

The mottos must be written on bifid and fluttering lists of the same color as the shield field, with Roman capital letters, placed under the tip of the shield.”

Elements and curiosities of flags and coats of arms of Italian municipalities

As we have seen, therefore, there are precise rules that indicate the correct use of the two fundamental elements of a coat of arms of an Italian municipality: the Shield and the Crown, but these two are obviously not the only elements present within a coat of arms.

Each element present is far from random, but once again it tells a part of the past of a specific Municipality and its history. And the history of many Italian municipalities can only be extremely connected and intertwined, with the result of some particularly recurring elements  in the coats of arms of many different municipalities.

In fact, there are over 50 elements that can be found in the coats of arms of numerous Italian municipalities; among these the most frequent are: the Lion (present in the coat of arms of 425 Municipalities), the Mount (in the coat of arms of 479 Municipalities), the Castle (485 Municipalities), the Star (present in 558 coats of arms of Italian Municipalities) and the most recurrent symbol ever, the Tower, even present in the coat of arms of 823 Italian Municipalities.

Finally, if it is true that among the flags and coats of arms of Italian municipalities we can find many recurring elements, it is equally true that some elements are extremely iconic, distinctive and are symbols of the identity and history of specific municipalities.

This is the case of the flag of the Municipality of Rome that shows in the center an iconic shield crowned with the inscription “S.P.Q.R” on a yellow-red background, always colors of the city.

The same goes for the famous Cross of St. George  (on which we wrote an article),always asymbol of the city of Genoa and at the center of its coat of arms and its flag, but also present in the coat of arms of the  Municipality of Milan. Because? Because, as we have said, the flags, the coats of arms, the symbols tell a part of the history of those realities, a story that very often connects and intertwines with others. In fact, the story itself tells that after the battle of 1248 of Victoria, near Parma, the Milanese asked to adopt the Cross of St. George, a banner that the Genoese granted to Milan as allies.