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Italy - Peace flags

Last modified: 2013-11-11 by rob raeside
Keywords: pacifism | pace | italy | peace | rainbow flag |
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image by Marcus Schm÷ger, 2 August 2002
Old version

image by Marcus Schm÷ger, 2 August 2002
New version



See also:


Current Flag

You might be interested in the peace campaign that has been ongoing in Italy since early autumn. "Peace from every balcony" is an effort to get people to show their opposition to war in general and specifically Italian partecipation in the US military campaign against Iraq. see <www.bandieredipace.org>. It's only in Italian but basically the idea is to fill the cities of Italy with the rainbow flag.
As far as I know, the version with the white stripe was the original from the early 1990's. You don't see this much anymore. You can see the current version above.
David Macdonald, 21 January 2003

The version most commonly used has only seven row. The "absent" row is the white one. It is often called the "bandiera arcobaleno" (rainbow flag).
Sergio Frosini, 26 February 2003

I've seen a lot of Italian pacifist flags watching TV (e.g. the great March for Peace in Rome) or just driving around Florence. Some of these flags have a white stripe above: I think they are the oldest ones: the new flags sold by municipalities and NGO are identical to the one above. However, there are a lot of variations: apart from the "latest model": a very common pacifist flag is similar to the Previous Flag with the white upper stripe, but it often lacks the white stripe and has got (usually) a thicker lettering (like that of the above flag). These flags are now used by some 15% of Italian population, to show their opposition to the war against Iraq.
There have been also polemics about the similarity of this flag with the rainbow-"Gay Pride" one. Some Traditionalist Catholics blame that they are almost identical and good Catholics should not use it. An Italian gay leader, Franco Grillini, has said that the pacifist flag was created before the "rainbow-"Gay Pride" one, as it was first used in 1961 by Aldo Capitini, leader of the Italian non-violent movement.
Paolo Montanelli, 26 February 2003

I am involved in the campaign "Peace from every balcony" and personally distributed some hundreds of rainbow flags. In almost all the cities and towns in Italy there are peace flags fluttering from the balconies. It is a very popular campaign: for instance, in the city I live (Pioltello, near Milan) there are 15.000 families and 2.000 peace flags ! It is estimated that in the whole Italy there are at least 500.000 peace flags at the balconies. It is the first time in the Italian history that so many flags are exposed by private citizens.
I also inform you that there are TWO patterns of the Italian pacifist rainbow flag. One pattern is: blue,azure, violet, green, yellow, orange, red; PACE is over violet and green. The other pattern is: violet, blue, azure, green, yellow, orange, red. The writing PACE covers azure and green. The second one is more common and also is more like a true rainbow. The other patterns shown in your page (as Previous Flags) are not currently used.
Giuseppe Bottasini, 28 March 2003

At peace demostrations this week in Munich (24/27/29 March), I noted a PACE flag as a "vexillum" (see <www.smev.de/2403>), and a PACE flag as a over-skirt (see <www.smev.de/2903>).
Marcus Schm÷ger, 31 March 2003

This morning, driving around my town near Florence, I've seen some flags matching the pattern seen at the lower flag above, maybe with a slightly darker violet and a lighter deep blue as the two upper colours. So, it cannot be considered incorrect, even if the pattern in the upper flag above which can be seen at <italy.peacelink.org> is more frequent.
Paolo Montanelli, 2 May 2003

The newer version, as of years 2001-2002 - The description of the flag is as follows: seven horizontal stripes of identical size, one for each of the seven colours of the rainbow, namely (from top to bottom) purple, blue, cyan, green, yellow, orange and red. The word "PACE" (peace) is spelt in bold white capital letters, over the third and fourth stripes. Some early versions of the flag had the first and third stripes (i.e. purple and cyan) reversed, so that the white letters would make a sharper contrast, but this was abandoned in favour of the regular sequence of rainbow colours. The flag is only produced in the Italian version; seldom, specimens with the English word "PEACE" are seen. The flag is currently flown all over Italy and Switzerland, and has become rather popular in most other countries too. The alleged plagiarism initially claimed by the Gay Movement, due to the similarity of their own flag, is only apparent; the peace flag has seven stripes, whereas the other one has six, in reversed order (from the top: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple; cyan is missing), and it does not have a text. The standard size of the present peace flag is 130 x 100 cm. 
Andrea Pollett, 3 June 2004


Original Flag

I located the original "Italian pacifist flag" used by the non-violent leader Aldo Capitini in the March for Peace in 1961 at <www.comitatopace.it>. The text is in Italian: here is an English version:
"The first Peace flag is now in Collevalenza, near Todi (town in Central Italy) kept by dr. Lanfranco Mencaroni, a friend, jail-fellow and collaborator of the pacifist philosopher Aldo Capitini, who invented the March for Peace Perugia-Assisi (the town where St. Francis lived).
The flag was first shown during the first March for Peace, September 24, 1961. It was inspired by the flag of Anglo-Saxon pacifists who marched in Aldermaston for an anti-nuclear protest, led by Bertrand Russell. Mr. Capitini asked some housewives from Perugia, who were friends of him, to sew with all possible speed some coloured stripes to form a flag to be shown during the march.
In the story of the Flood, God puts the rainbow as a seal of his alliance with humans and nature, promising that will never be another Flood. So the rainbow became the symbol of peace between the Earth and Heaven,and, in consequence of that, among all mankind.
The colours of the rainbow are also used as sign of "unity in difference" for their physical characteristic of becoming white if they are wheeled quickly.
The same definition of "Peace symbol" given to the flag can date back to the Greek word "syn-ballo" which means "to put together", like the rainbow which puts together everything and everybody.
Moreover, these colours (only five) can be found also in "the flag of the races", used by the Civil Rights society founded by the democratic Afro-American leader Jesse Jackson.
The Peace flag was used widely in the 80's during the Peace marches and all Italian demonstrations, as well as in peace initiatives by Italian volunteers abroad (in Sarajevo, in Iraq, in Kosovo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo).
Since September 2002, the Peace flag became the symbol of the campaign "Pace da tutti i balconi" (= Peace from every balcony) which gained great success in Italy: hundreds of thousands people show the flag from balconies and window-sills to say "no!" to the conception of preventive war and to war in Iraq".
Paolo Montanelli, 1 March 2003


Previous Flags

1)[8 color Pacifist flag in Italy] image by Antˇnio Martins, 14 May 1999

It's a very used flag in Italy, mainly fluttered by left-oriented and/or catholic pacifist movements. It has eight horizontal strips, from to bottom: white, dark blue, blue, azure, green, yellow, orange and red. Over the two central strips there's the white writing PACE ("peace" in Italian).
Giuseppe Bottasini

2) image by Antˇnio Martins, 27 September 2001

I have a photo of this flag hoisted in demonstration calling for peace in Butembu (Kivu, Democratic republic of Congo). Flag in photo is SIXstriped (and not eighstriped) starting above with the color purple, and following (to below) with blue, light blue, green,  yellow and red (upper white stripe and lower orange stripe are mising). Letters PACE in white are in the light blue and green stripes. Is it a simplified version or is it a different flag?
Jaume OllÚ, 7 July 2001

It seems to be a variation of the same flag -- rainbow flags often have not fixed number nor order of stripes. If you are curious about what a flag with italian words is doing in Kongo-Z, I'd bet it related to the Combonian missionaries, an italian order.
Antˇnio Martins, 27 September 2001

3) image by Jaume OllÚ, 27 March 2005

Flag used in the 1960'.
Jaume OllÚ, 27 March 2005


Variants

image by Marcus Schm÷ger, Tomislav Todorovic and Mladen Mijatov, 3 June 2005

image by Marcus Schm÷ger, Tomislav Todorovic and Mladen Mijatov, 3 June 2005

image by Marcus Schm÷ger, Tomislav Todorovic and Mladen Mijatov, 3 June 2005

Issue #708 (published on 2004-07-02) of Croatian magazine "Globus" (ISSN 0353-9903) contained a long text about Veronica Berlusconi, wife of current Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. On page 104, there was a separate sub-article titled "A Voice Against the Husband" (Croat: "Glas protiv supruga"), describing how political opinions of Mrs Berlusconi often differed from those of her husband, especially about the Italian military presence in Iraq, which she opposed. As an illustration, there was a photo from some anti-war protests in Italy (time and place not mentioned, Mrs Berlusconi not shown there), showing numerous PACE flags, three of which were clearly visible and could be identified as versions different from the previously described ones:
The closest to the photographer, in the central left part of the photo, there was a large flag with the following colour pattern: dark blue, light blue, very light blue, green, yellow, orange and red; white word PACE was over very light blue and green (upper image above). This resembles a bit the original version of the flag, but omits the top white stripe; also, dark blue is lighter here and inclines a bit towards the violetblue, light blue is very similar to Zircon Blue from the flag of Sabah, Malaysia - perhaps inclines a bit more towards the cyan - and very light blue is a bit darker than Icicle Blue from the flag of Sabah; green is much lighter and orange is a bit darker than on the other PACE flags.
On some distance behind the previously described flag, in the top left part of the photo, there was a flag with the following colour pattern: dark blue, purple, light blue, green, yellow, orange and red; white word PACE was over light blue and green (see second image above). Here, dark blue is a bit darker than on the previously described flag and does not incline towards the violetblue, purple is FIAV colour P or very close, while green is a bit lighter than on the other PACE flags and orange is the same as on the previously described flag.
Far behind two previously described flags, in the top right corner of the photo, there was a flag, looking small due to the distance, but with clearly visible colour pattern: purple, dark blue, light blue, green, yellow, orange and red; white word PACE was over light blue and green (see bottom image above). Here, purple and orange are the same as on the previously described flag, while dark blue and green are darker than elsewhere.
The colours not mentioned in these descriptions are the same as on the other PACE flags.
There were many other flags on the photo, but they were either too distant or not unfurled completely, so they were not clearly visible. Still, it could be seen that some of them were charged with word PACE in a typeface different than elsewhere, while the colour patterns were mostly like those of the three flags described here.
Tomislav Todorovic, 3 June 2005

image by Marcus Schm÷ger and Tomislav Todorovic, 8 January 2010

image by Marcus Schm÷ger and Tomislav Todorovic, 8 January 2010

A new variant of the flag was used in Rome, on 26 February 2006. The colour pattern was: purple, light blue, green, yellow, orange, red, dark blue; word PACE was inscribed in white over green and yellow. Numerous copies of this and other variants of the flag were sewn up together and carried by the participants of the manifestation, as can be seen on flickr here, here, here and here.
The same flag appeared again in Milan, on 2007-04-25, where it was used in the same way as seen on flickr here and here.
Nice close-up of the flag, but with no place of picture taking, can be found on flickr here.
It also appeared at a manifestation organized by the Party of Italian Communists on 20 October 2007 as seen here and here.
Another variant of the flag was seen in Milan, on 12 October 2003 as seen here. The colour pattern was: dark blue, purple, light blue, green, yellow, orange, red; word PACE was inscribed in white over green and yellow. Note that the inscription is closer to the bottom edge here than on the other flag variants described so far.
Tomislav Todorovic, 8 January 2010


Another Italian Peace Flag

image by Antˇnio Martins, 5 April 2005

Another Italian peace flag can be seen at <www.sistemia.it/pace>.
Dov Gutterman, 4 September 1999

This shows on a blue background a stylized version of the peace-sign consisting the ring around it of two flag like ribbons (horizontal tribands: yellow - blue - green on the hoist side, and yellow - black - red on the fly side), completed by groups of figures representing children from several ethnic groups at the bottom. On the bottom hoist corner the lettering "Bandiera della Pace" (italian for "flag of peace"), and on the bottom fly "Peace's flag", both in white letters.
Apart from showing the universalness of broken English, this flag informs us that two out of each five children is blond, that dark skinned children have though white hand and neck, and that Chinese racial features include black conical hats.
Antˇnio Martins, 27 September 2001