Sicilian flag is red like lava and yellow like wheat, with three legs like its three edges, but this is not all. This regional symbol has deep historical and religious roots, which make Sicilians what they once were and what they still are, as if it was the chest of their most untouchable secrets
An entire people’s pride represented with specific emblems and colours, the unique history of a fire-hearted land’s, an unceasing fight. All of these elements and many more can be found in the Sicilian flag: observing the coexistence of yellow and red with the majestic and central image of a head with three legs. Why did they choose to use these specific symbols? What do these elements reveal about this land’s past and character? Is Sicilian flag, one of the oldest in the entire world, the material representation of its inhabitants’ feelings?
The first issue concerns the colour combination. Although you would instinctively be tempted to link red and yellow to lava and wheat ‒ which made the island famous around the world ‒ the real reason has deep, significant and historical origins, as these colours refer to the towns of Palermo and Corleone, the first two ones protesting against Angevin domination and starting the crucial Sicilian Vespers in 1282 (described by the Sicilian historian Michele Amari). In that occasion Sicilians send away Frenchmen away with a huge revolutionary act and entrust the management to the Aragonese. Combativeness and courage to fight against the oppressor: that is what has always distinguished Sicilian people since the flag was created, as the symbol of a strength that never decreased.
Among these historical shades, the mysterious Triscele stands out: it is a human representation with the mythological head of Gorgon and three (almost) concentric legs. Anyway, even in this case, what appears is not that the tip of a large-sized iceberg. Although the legs recall the three Sicilian edges (Pachino, Peloro and Lilibeo) and even though Romans probably thought it too, this figure has an Oriental origin. It represents the alternation of seasons, the infinite cyclicality of time, ignoring weak ones in its inescapable flow but granting them revenge sometimes. And what about the Gorgon? A detail let us understand its peculiarity: compared to the Greek iconography, where she has serpents for hair, in this version she has thorns of wheat. However, they both retain the original meaning of an amulet against bad luck. Time, wheat, ancient charm and mistrust for fate: what’s more Sicilian than this mythical mix? The Triscele represents the respect for time, the hope that sooner or later the right moment will come to grasp, the awareness that after the rain comes the rainbow. Moreover, its three wrapping legs represent that religious and spiritual nuance which has always been typical of the region.
Therefore, this flag, that people often take for granted or conceive as some amusing representation, is the chest of Sicilians’ most untouchable secrets, the magic formula that makes them what they are. It is their everyday chance to think about their past efforts and recognize the values they have to defend: historical, multicultural, frail and brave ones.
Translated into English by Daniela Marsala