Arms of Veneto, Italy


Arms of Veneto, Italy

Granted 1975

Blazon: Azure the sea proper in base surmounted by a rocky mountain also in base, thereon a winged lion passant and nimbed, the dexter forepaw resting on an open book all proper emblazoned with PAX TIBI MARCE EVANGELISTA MEUS sable

The Lion of St. Mark has been a symbol of Venice and the surrounding area going back to at least 1261, possibly earlier. The legend goes that St. Mark was shipwrecked in the Venetian lagoons when an angel in the form of a winged lion appeared and proclaimed “Pax tibi Marce, evangelista meus. Hic requiescet corpus tuum.” (Peace to you, Mark, my evangelist. Your body will rest here.) Later authorities claimed the lion was a symbol of majesty, the book stood for wisdom, and the halo for piety, but this sounds very much like the sort of post hoc rationalization that was common in later centuries.

Arms of Umbria, Italy


Granted 1973

Blazon: Gris three ceri palewise in fess gules surmounted by four fillets argent

Gris, or gray, is typically not used in heraldry, but given that there are argent charges laid on the field, I didn’t have much choice. This is (surprise, surprise) the result of another competition, this one won by architects Gino and Alberto Anselmi in 1971. I can’t quite find a good English translation for ceri; the charges here are intended to represent large wooden pedestals used in the annual celebration of Saint Ubald’s Day. Small statues of St. Ubald (the patron saint of Gubbio, Italy), St. Anthony, and St. George are mounted on the pedestals and “raced” through the town to the basilica.

Arms of Tuscany, Italy


Granted 1995

Blazon: Gules a pegasus counter-salient argent

The use of the winged horse is more recent than you might think. It was only adopted in 1975 as an homage to the World War II Tuscan National Liberation Committee. (They adopted the symbol due to the myths of Pegasus as a mount for heroes who fought against evil.) The red and white, however, have been consistent pretty much since Tuscany was recognizable as a polity. Duke Hugh of Tuscany, who ruled from about 961 through 1001, bore argent three palets gules; his arms, though not the precise blazon, are referenced in the Divine Comedy.

Arms of Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy

Trentino-Alto Adige

Granted 1972

Blazon: Argent per quarterly I and IV an eagle displayed sable armed or enflamed gules, II and III an eagle displayed gules armed or

The eagle in the first and third quarters is one we’ve touched on before – the flaming eagle of the Přemyslid dynasty. The eagle also became known as a symbol of St. Wenceslaus (since he was also a member of the dynasty). The Přemyslids died out in 1306, and in 1339, the king of Bohemia permitted the prince-bishopric of Trent to use their arms. This later evolved into the province of Trentino, which was incorporated into the region. Similarly, the red eagle has been the symbol of the region of Tyrol since 1205. Tyrol is currently split between North Tyrol and South Tyrol; the latter forms the province of Bolzano – Alto Adige, which is the other part of the region.

Arms of Sardinia, Italy


Granted 1999; in use since 1281

Blazon: Argent a cross gules between four Moors’ heads facing to the sinister proper bandaged on the forehead of the field

The four heads on Sardinia’s arms allegedly trace back to Peter I of Aragon and the battle of Alcoraz in 1096. Apparently, St. George appeared above the Aragonese forces (hence the cross), and four of the Moorish kings were killed in the fighting, though I can’t find any specific names. A different legend claims that Pope Benedict VIII granted a similar banner to the Pisans when they came to Sardinia’s aid against Mujāhid al-ʿĀmirī in 1016. In any case, the basic configuration of cross gules plus Moors’ heads appears on Peter III of Aragon’s seal by 1281, and has been in fairly consistent use ever since. The exact depictions of the heads can vary from representation to representation – blindfolded, crowned, etc. – but the current blazon granted in 1999 has them bendata sulla fronte.

I know the image here is of a flag, the depiction of the coat of arms has the heads facing the dexter (their default position) and blindfolded, rather than bandaged around the forehead. While it’s not technically on a shield, I’d prefer to display a device that matches the blazon whenever possible.

Arms of Piedmont, Italy


Adopted 1995

Blazon: Gules a cross argent, a label of three points azure

This is actually pretty straightforward, as Italian arms go. Gules a cross argent are the arms of the house of Savoy; in 1424, Duke Amadeus VIII of Savoy granted his oldest living son (also named Amadeus, because of course) the title Prince of Piedmont. And, as the eldest son, Amadeus bore the arms of his father with the traditional label for difference. There have been slightly different configurations of the arms over the years (mostly adding, removing, and changing the tincture of bordures), but the cross and label have remained consistent.

Arms of Molise, Italy


Granted 1970?

Blazon: Gules a bend sinister, in the dexter chief a molet of eight points argent

The star is derived from the former arms of the County of Molise. They may have gotten it from the Del Balzo family, a cadet branch of the House of Baux, which evidently held a number of fiefdoms in the region. Gratifyingly, there are a couple of entertaining legends about where the star of Baux came from: in the most common, they purportedly descended from Balthazar – as in the Magi Balthazar, who gave myrrh to the infant Jesus – and the star represents the Star of Bethlehem. Another tradition holds that they were descended from the first kings of Armenia, the Artaxiads, and the star indicates that they personally knew Jesus. The latter explanation has a tiny bit more historical grounding than the former, but that’s really not saying much.

The bend is somewhat less exciting; it’s apparently derived from the arms of Rodolfo di Moulins, Italianized to di Molisio. He was the first Count of Molise in the mid-eleventh century; the del Balzos don’t appear to have ever held the title of Count. The bend sinister still appears in the di Molisio coat of arms, albeit as azure on or.