Symbols form the base of culture. Objects, actions and words can all constitute symbols that hold implicit meaning and value within the region.
Symbols can also include facial expressions and word interpretations. They can also mean various things to different kinds of people. The historical and national symbols of Italy have been discussed in this article.
Rich in culture and history, a multitude of Italian symbols have influenced modern society. Some of these symbols are national or official symbols, while others have been derived from Greek mythology. Representing Italian heritage, many of these symbols have been widely utilized in artwork, official texts and logos.
Listed below are the top 9 most important Italian Symbols of Strength:
Table of Contents
1. The Italian Flag
Inspired by the tricolor French flag, the Italian flag was designed under Napoleon’s rule. Symbolically, the tricolor existed even before the unification of Italy. It was a symbol of Italian nationalism from 1798 to 1848.
After the end of Napoleon’s rule in 1814, different Italian regions were unified as one country and the tricolor became the official Italian symbol (1). There are different theories about the significance of the tricolor.
Some state that green represents freedom, white represents faith, and red represents love. Others believe the three colors represent theological virtues. Green stands for hope, red for charity, and white for faith.
2. The Emblem of Italy
The emblem of Italy is a white star with five points known as the Stella d’Italia that is placed on a cogwheel with five spokes. The emblem has an olive branch on one side and an oak branch on the other. Both these branches are bound together with a red ribbon with “Repubblica Italiana” inscribed over it. This emblem is also widely used by the Italian government. (2)
The oak branch on the emblem represents the strength and dignity of the Italian people, while the olive branch represents peace.
Formally adopted by the Italian republic in 1949, this emblem is designed as a symbol of non-conformity to traditional rules. (3)
3. The Cockade of Italy
The Cockade of Italy is an Italian national ornament formed by pleating green, white, and red ribbons. The colors represent the colors of the Italian flag, with green forming the center, white on the outside, and red forming the border of the ornament.
The cockade was a widely used symbol during uprisings caused by the Italian unification. Patriots pinned this symbol on their hats and jackets until the Italian regions unified in 1861, with the formation of the Kingdom of Italy (4)
4. Strawberry Tree
The strawberry tree came to be seen as an Italian symbol during the late 19th century, during the unification. The autumn colors of the strawberry tree are reminiscent of the colors of the Italian flag. Green can be seen in the leaves, white in the flowers and red in the berries. The strawberry tree is also the national tree of Italy. (5)
Giovanni Piscoli was the first person who connected the strawberry tree with Italy and linked it to the Italian flag. (6)
5. Italia Turrita
The Italia Turrita is a national personification of Italy and usually accompanies the Stella d’Italia or the Star of Italy.
The Italia Turrita is represented in the form of a woman wearing a mural crown that is completed with towers on it. The Italian word Turrita translates to towers. These towers draw their origin back to ancient Rome. This walled crown sometimes also represents the different Italian cities.
The Italia Turrita is depicted as a woman with Mediterranean attributes. She is thought to have a lively complexion and dark hair. She is the representation of ideal beauty. The Italia Turrita often holds a bunch of corn ears in her hand, which represents Italy’s agrarian economy. During the fascist era, she also held a fascio littorio or “bundle of the lictors”. (7)
6. Laurel Wreath
The Laurel Wreath was first used by the Ancient Greeks and was seen as a symbol of peace, victory and honor. It was the symbol of Apollo himself. It was also thought to have special physical and spiritual cleansing powers.
The Laurel Wreath is usually crafted from olive trees or the cherry laurel. (8)
7. Michelangelo’s David
Created by famed Renaissance sculptor, Michelangelo, the sculpture of David was carved between 1501 and 1504 by the Italian artist. This sculpture is 17 feet long, carved out of marble and represents David, a biblical figure.
David’s double life-sized sculpture is shown as awaiting battle with a stone in one hand and a slingshot in the other. (9)
David’s statue started symbolizing the defense of civil liberties in Florence, which was seen as an independent city-state.
8. Gray Wolf
The Gray Wolf, also known as Canis Lupus Italicus, is an unofficial Italian symbol. It is depicted as the grey wolf or the Apennine Wolf. These wolves used to live in the Apennine Mountains and were the largest predators of that area.
These dominant animals were part of legend. It was thought that Romulus and Remus were suckled by a female gray wolf and later on founded Rome. Hence the Gray Wolf is a vital part of Italian myths.
The Aquila was a popular Roman symbol and means ‘eagle’ in Latin. It was a standard symbol of the Roman legions. It was a very important symbol for soldiers.
They went to great lengths to protect the eagle standard. If it was ever lost in battle, it was sought to be recovered and losing this symbol was also seen as a great humiliation. Many European countries and cultures have eagles resembling the Aquila, a revered symbol descending from the mighty Romans.
Which of these Italian Symbols of Strength were you aware of? National and historic symbols stem from legend, history and culture of that region. These particular symbols are given great importance and add to cultural identity.
- Barbero, Alessandro (2015). Il divano di Istanbul (in Italian). Sellerio Editore
- “Il corbezzolo simbolo dell’Unità d’Italia. Una specie che resiste agli incendi”