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The Fascinating Origin and Meaning of the Sicilian Flag

Meaning and Origin of the Sicilian Flag
The flag of Sicily has its origins in the Medieval period of European history. The Trinacria on the flag is a unique symbol representing the ancient culture of Sicily. Get to know more such interesting facts about the Sicilian flag.
Historyplex Staff
Last Updated: Oct 24, 2018
God's Kitchen
Sicily is sometimes called God's Kitchen, due to its highly fertile soil.
"To have seen Italy without Sicily - is not to have seen Italy at all, as Sicily is the key to everything", says Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his Italian Journey, which is based on his travels to Italy between 1786 and 1788.
Sicily is an island enveloped by three water bodies - the Tyrrhenian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Ionian Sea. It is one of the five autonomous regions of Italy (or Regione Siciliana), and also the largest of the islands in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Article 116 of the Italian Constitution grants autonomy to these divisions in matters relating to legislation, finance, and administration. For Sicily, its flag is no less than a historical and cultural icon. We look into its origin, meaning, and symbolism.
Sicilian Flag Origin
The Sicilian flag was adopted as early as 1282. It is believed to have originated during the times of the Sicilian Vespers of Palermo. The locals had revolted and risen against the unfair French officialdom in 1282, resulting into the War of the Sicilian Vespers.
It was during this strife against the Angevin French that the flag became a symbol of unity amongst the islanders. The Pope had sent an army to restore the Angevin rule. However, the masses flooded the city of Messina in the northeast to defend their land.
The flag was known to have been draped over the walls of this city for a period of five months, while it was resisting the siege. The current design was designated as the official public flag on January 4, 2000. A law passed on this day asks for a display of the flag primarily on public buildings, city halls, and schools.
Meaning of the Sicilian Flag
Flag of Sicily
The flag of Sicily is a rectangular-shaped emblem, following a 3:5 proportion. A diagonal partition of the flag divides it into two triangular halves.
It has a similar appearance as of the flag of the Isle of Man, mainly due to the trinacria present on them both. The Normans coming to Sicily are understood to have carried the trinacria to the Isle of Man.
Colors
Red color in the upper-right half represents the city of Palermo. Yellow in the lower-left half stands for the city of Corleone. These two cities were the first ones to initiate a confederation against the Angevin rule. Also, the city of Corleone was famous as an agricultural city.
Sicilian Trinacria
What catches our attention in the first glance of the Sicilian flag is the quite unusual symbol at the center. This is the 'trinacria' or the 'triskelion', which has become a symbol of Sicily. It stems from mythology, and thus is also said to have some mysteries to it.
Trinacria simply means a triangle, thus lending Sicily its ancient Greek name, referring to its triangular shape. The Romans called it the 'Trinacrium'. The word triskelion refers more to the motif of a rotational symmetry found in many ancient cultures.
Three Legs
The three legs bent at the knees supposedly represent the three promontories (or headlands) of Sicily. These include the Cape Pelorus (Punta del Faro) in the northeast, Cape Passero in the southeast, and Cape Lilibeo to the western end of the island.
These three corners are close to the three cities of Messina, Syracuse (north of Cape Passero), and Marsala respectively. This explains the etymology of the Greek word triskeles, also referring to the three capes.
Ears of Wheat
The three ears or stalks of wheat symbolize the fertility of the land.

The highly fertile soil is because of the volcanic eruptions that have occurred so far. Besides growing wheat, oranges, tomatoes, olives, and artichokes, this island is known to be the third-largest producer of wine in Italy. So, Sicily is home to the fortified Marsala wines too.