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Genoa (Liguria, Italy)


Last modified: 2021-08-24 by rob raeside
Keywords: genoa | genova | republic of genoa | liguria | gryphon | cross | janus | zeneise |
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The first flag of the Republic of Genoa was red with Saint George riding an horse, attested after 1198. The Republic used in land after 1218 an white flag with red Saint George cross, later also used as ensign since 1238. This flag was in use until 1805.
Jaune Ollé, 13 October 1998

Red cross on white field. This flag is listed under number 54 at the chart "Flags of Aspirant Peoples" [eba94] as: "Liguria (Genoa) - North-West Italy."
AFAIK , Genoa is the capital of Liguria. Lega Liguria uses more complicated flags, including the red cross on white field.
Ivan Sache, 6 September 1999

The Statute of the Comune (Community) of Genoa states under Title 1 - General Principles, point 4:
"The Community of Genova has its own coat of arms, its flag - both a red cross on a white field - and its gonfalone, prized with a golden medal for Military Value for the contribute during the Liberation (in World War II) and it depicts Saint George killing the dragon."(See: <>).

The story behind this is very interesting. Here follows a brief summary:
The vexillum beati Georgii (flag of Saint George) is first reported in the Annales Januenses of 1198 (Genoa Yearbook). A red flag with Saint George riding a horse and striking a dragon was the state flag till the first half of the XIII century. A picture of it appears in the Annales Januenses describing the capture of the city of Savona in 1227. The banner with four tails is placed before the Genoa commanders tents and its importance is stressed by the author, who wrote "vexillum" under it. Meanwhile, the Community flag, ie the red cross on a white field, was also used. It is first reported on 28 September 1218: the insignia cruxata comunis Janue (cross ensigns of the Community of Genoa) were flying on the city of Ventimiglia, which surrendered to Genoa. At this point it was a land flag only. It assumed a modern rectangular shape, with no tails, from mid of the XIV century. The vexillum beati Georgii is still described in 1241 for the fleet of Genoa, being the war ensign and the Admiral proper, but in 1242 the signum Communis, ie the cross flag, was also in use, displayed on the galleys. The vexillum beati Georgii was flown from the commander (Podesta') galley only. Until at least 1282 this was the Admiral standard. Today the flag of the Comune of Genova (Genoa) is still the red cross on a white background and the Gonfalone is the banner with the Saint striking the dragon.

Source: Aldo Ziggioto, Genova, in Vexilla Italica 1, XX (1993);
Aldo Ziggioto, Le Bandiere degli Stati Italiani, in Armi Antiche 1994.
Pier Paolo Lugli, 18 July 2000

I looked up Genua on the flagchart that forms the cover for Vlaggen - Sierksma, and this shows for 1756 the "Pavillon de Genes" to be a white flag with a red cross
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 18 July 2000

In 1099 in the first crusade a Genoese fleet conquered some cities along the coast of the Middle East. The Genoese went then straight to Jerusalem where they gave a determined help to the Christian warriors. Guglielmo Embriaco took the red cross up on to the top of a hill near Jerusalem and said "Pe Zena e pe San Zorzo" ("For Genoa and for Saint George"). Since that moment the red cross is synonymous with Genoa, even before it became a symbol of Milan, England etc..
Filippo Noceti, 22 February 2001

I would like to invite everybody to treat carefully statements of this kind. Crusader flags were the patterns for many following banners and, eventually, flags, but at the time there was no concept of flags in the modern way. Aldo Ziggioto works on the Italian flags are the reference for everybody who wishes to study the topic.
Pier Paolo Lugli, 22 February 2001

This is the flag of Genoa. Since 1099. It is dark red almost maroon.
Filippo Noceti, 22 February 2001

Maybe it is true that during the crusades we can't speak of official flags but the Republic of Genoa was born in 1099 and all over the Mediterranean Sea a red cross meant Genoa. In 1248 at the battle of Victoria near Parma the Genoese crossbow-men conquered the new imperial city. Milan asked to take the red cross and the allied Genoese allowed them to take the flag. The Genoese and Pisan fleet cleared the western Mediterranean of the Musulman fleet but after 1284, when Pisa was defeated at the battle of Meloria, and remained the only maritime police (Venice had been beaten at Corcula in 1297). When the Saracens saw the red cross they fled and didn't attack. In 1992 for the Genoese Columbus festival in Genoa the Duke of Kent wrote some words about the relationship between Genoa and England in past history: "...The St. George's flag, a red cross on a white field, was adopted by England and the City of London in 1190 for their ships entering the Mediterranean to benefit from the protection of the Genoese fleet. The English Monarch paid an annual tribute to the Doge of Genoa for this privilege..." You can find the full text at the site <> . In 1304 Venice took Constantinople but in 1361 the Genoese fleet helped Michele Paleologo (schismatic Emperor) to take power in the Eastern Empire, so the trade route to the Black Sea became Genoese and they fortified lots of cities and the cities they colonized in south-eastern Europe in fact have arms with a red cross.
Filippo Noceti, 2 March 2001 and 6 June 2001

At J.W Norie - J.S. Hobbs: Flaggen aller seefahrenden Nationen, 1971[ nor71] (original print 1848):
197 Genoa- As above.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 12 November 2001

At the time of the World Cup football competition, many English flags were displayed. It was reported about this time (June 2018) that the Mayor of Genoa had asserted that the St. George's Cross, in red on white, had been the Genoese flag originally and that the English had, with their permission, adopted it in the 13th century as a deterrent to the Barbary Pirates when flown on English ships in the Mediterranean. He further claimed that the English Crown had paid a regular fee to Genoa for this privilege and that it had continued to be paid till 1746. He asked for the payment to be resumed (with back pay).
Kenneth Fraser, 27 July 2018

The 1746 appears to be the year Genoa lost its independence. After that time, yearly dues agreed on between the governments of the two countries would have gone to whatever country Genoa was part of at the time. So, if 270 years of back-payments are owed, it's not to Genoa.

The details on the original events seem to differ with each report, but around the 11th century Genoa adopted the St. George ensign, and England asked and got permission to fly that ensign on English ships. Around the 13th century, it appears England adopted that flag as their national flag and/or ensign, apparently without Genoa protesting. It would seem that use as a national flag was not a problem, be it because of time or of distance.

Interestingly, England in Tudor times no longer used the St. George ensign, though ensigns derived from it seem to have been used ever since. If England did indeed pay up until 1746, as the burgomaster of Genoa is reported to have claimed, then Genoa owes centuries of restitutions for the time when Genoa was paid for England using the St. George ensign when in fact England did no such thing.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 14 September 2018

The Gonfalone

image contributed by Filippo Noceti, 27 June 2000

Official city gonfalone is this one. The Gonfalone of Genoa represent St. George killing the Dragon
Filippo Noceti, 27 June 2000

The gonfalone of Genoa has the gold medal for the resistance during the second world war, because Genoese fought for their freedom by themselves.
Filippo Noceti, 19 September 2001

image from <>

The website <> show different gonfalone.
Eli Gutterman, 10 November 2005

Coat of Arms

image contributed by Filippo Noceti, 8 June 2001

image by Andre' Serranho

The symbol of the city of Genoa is with Griffins, St. George cross and at the top Janus the Roman god with two faces, the Roman god of Genoa.
Filippo Noceti, 22 February 2001

At the base, on the both, there is the spur of a Roman allegoric ship with the snout of a wild boar.
Filippo Noceti, 8 June 2001

I believe he meant a Roman ship with a boar's head figure on the bow. I cannot see enough detail to confirm it, but suspect Filippo is referring to the small embellishments upon which both griffin supporters are  resting a paw.
Ned Smith, 8 June 2001

There is an error in my previous text. . The spur is a real thing that have been found in 1597 in the Gulf of Genoa and it's really a part of a roman ship, it isn't an allegoric picture. Now it's in Turin in a museum, Savoia taked it during their reign. You can see this image on lot of Genoese monuments, like the monument to Columbus, the Triumphal Arch built after 1st World War or on the paint of the admiral Andrea Doria. At you can see them all around the rounded base of Columbus monument and at on the top at the level of arch in the corners. You can see it at the site of the Gallery of Tourin
Filippo Noceti, 22 June 2001

Flag According to Book of all Kingdoms (late 14th Cent.)

image by Eugene Ipavec, 24 December 2009

The 26th flag mentioned and illustrated in the Book of All Kingdoms [f0fXX] is attributed to Genoa. This as depicted in the 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription [f0f05], a white flag with a red cross throughout, reading "iustiçia" in black letters across the the upper half; the flag shown in the ogival default shape of this source.
The anonymous author of [f0fXX] describes the flag thusly: "El señor della á por señales un pendón blanco con una cruz bermeja. Encima está escripto «Justicia» d’esta manera" (And its lord has for sign a white pendon with a red cross. Atop it is written «Justicia» like this.).
The lettering reads rather "iustiçia", set in black uncial (lower case) letters, with dotless "i", so-called long "s" ("&#383;"), unorthographic cedilla, and ligated "sti", with "iusti" on the upper fly quadrant and "çia" on the upper hoist.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 15 November 2007

Flag in Catalan Atlas (1375)

image by Tomislav Todorovic, 19 May 2016

In the Catalan Atlas [c2q75], Genoa has a silver flag with a red cross, however the flag is very long and vertical arms of the cross are set rather close to the hoist, so that it resembles a modern Scandinavian flag, rather than the Cross of St George1. Silver has darkened by age to a very dark shade of gray. It is shown at four different places in the map, but is properly visible only at Pera, the foreigners' quarter of medieval Constantinople which was governed by the Genoese and marked as a separate city in the portolanos; this depiction was the basis for the attached image. The flag hoisted over the then Genoese colony of Caffa, present-day Feodosia, Crimea, is partly damaged, so only the traces of vertical arms of the cross have remained. Genoa itself is shown twice on the map because, for unclear reasons, parts of Europe and Africa, including northwestern Italy, next to the right-hand edge of the third leaf of the Atlas (or sixth half-leaf, as is is now divided) are repeated along the left-hand edge of the fourth leaf (seventh half-leaf)2. In both places, cross is not visible on the flag, which appears as having a plain silver (now dark gray) field. It is not clear why it is so, since the other two flags were depicted correctly, regardless of present damages3.

[1] Catalan Atlas at Wikipedia:
[2] Image of Catalan Atlas at Wikimedia Commons:
Tomislav Todorovic, 19 May 2016

1 Or rather "rather than the Cross of St George as we know it today". I'd say this long fly is how the flag was usually drawn in the past. As it's seems to have been described as a St. George cross for some time, what does that say about variation or development of St. George crosses?
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 20 May 2016

2 I don't know about the numbering of the sides, but apparently only pairs were expected to be seen at the same time, hence there's overlap going to the next pair (mark of a good map). The last pair is an exception, probably because it's not really a continuation of the previous one.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 20 May 2016

The numbering of sides is from the cited source (Wikipedia), but its external sources also use it. First two leaves do not display the map itself, only the third to sixth leaves do.
Tomislav Todorovic, 20 May 2016

3 Because this is truly what the flag of Genoa at home looked like (at least according to the artist)? Then again, there seem to be traces of red on what would be the crosses of these two. Did they use different materials for the Genoese flags than were used for other red crosses on white on the map?
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 20 May 2016

If there are traces of red (which I wasn't able to recognize), then there are just two more damaged flags from the map - there are many flags with erased details, so this is more likely to be the case than intentional depicting of plain silver flags, for no other portolanos seem to depict them so.
Tomislav Todorovic, 20 May 2016

Flag According to Steenbergen Book (1862)

image by Jaume Ollé, 11 April 2003

No. 430 - Duchy of Genoa.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 11 April 2003

image by Jaume Ollé, 8 June 2003

No. 649 - Genoa.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 8 June 2003

image by Jaume Ollé, 15 June 2003

No. 692 - Genoa.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 15 June 2003

Lengua Zeneize

Anyone knows what is the language that is represented by a red St. George cross on white at It is probably connected with Genoa or Liguria since it looks like some cultural organization from Genoa. Their gonfalone at
Dov Gutterman, 11 July 2001

The word "zeneize" means citizen of Genoa in the local language of Genoa. The red cross on a white background is the flag (vexillum) of Saint George, a saint which Genoa is devoted to. This flag was adopted in the age of the first Crusade and lately England was allowed to use it by the Republic of Genoa.
This is a short story. You can find a longer explanation (in English) at my pages.
Franco Bampi, 12 July 2001

In the Liguria Region is spoken as native tongue a language called "Ligurian" that, I think, was also the official language of Genoa Republic. Zeneize is the local dialect of this language spoken in the city of Genoa and is the main dialect of this language, it's like a standard Ligurian.
Edoard Salza, 12 December 2001

In Argentina, where the dialect is also spoken (brought to the country by immigrants - the word is translated as "xeneize" and it stands for the gold and blue colors of the football team Boca Juniors (source:
Esteban Rivera, 5 June 2016

Gonfalone of “A compagna”

image contributed by Ivano Piermarini, 21 January 2004

“A compagna” is the Association of the Genovesi loving of Genoa and their ancient land, the ancient glories, the beauties, the traditions, the language and the customs of their People, beside and above every political and religious faith. In the front part it represent Saint George (patron of Genoa and protecting of Liguria), in steel armor. In the posterior part it represent the figure of the “Grifo” and the coats of arms of the eight Compagne Genovesi: San Lorenzo, Piazza Longa, Sozziglia, Portanuova, Borgo, Castello, Porta and Maccagnana. In the Middle Ages, the noblest and rich citizens of Genova organized themselves in consortia of families that lived in the same contrade and that they had common interests. Such consortia were named compagne.
See: <> and <>.
Ivano Piermarini, 21 January 2004

Genoa Cricket and Football Club

The flag of the Genoa Cricket and Football Club1893 is red and blue.
Corrado Mortelli, 21 February 2006

Sampdoria Footbal Club (Unione Calcio Sampdoria)

image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 15 September 2005

I saw this morning in the Lisbon airport the arrival of a large and noisy party of soccer supporters from Italy. I think they are Sampdoria fans . Some of them had flags, apparently mass-manufactured, matching other fan gear: Medium blue with a wide central white stripe and and thinner red and black stripes on it. Approximate specs: (9+3+2+2+3+9):42 = 2:3.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 15 September 2005

It is the Sampdoria flag. It is Italian football club of Genoa, founded by the merger of two minor club in the Genoa area: Sampierdarenese and Andrea Doria.
Paolo, 15 September 2005

 I believe you might be interested in one small (very big to a Genoese) detail about Sampdoria football club: It is not a team from a suburb of Genoa but it is a team founded in 1946 by the fusion of two existing teams: one was the Sampierdanerese (which means "from Sampierdarena, a popular industrial neighborhood of Genoa) the other one was the "Andrea Doria" which is as Genoese as you can get (the name was taken from the famous admiral). The name was indeed Samp + Doria = Sampdoria.  It is a football team founded by teams well rooted in Genoese tradition.  On the contrary "Genoa Cricket and Football Club" was founded by British citizens in Italy and won all of the championships with a team completely made by British citizens. It is now part of the blood and DNA of town, of course.
Paolo Tavella, 15 March 2006