Giro d'Italia 2017

The heraldry of Italy
User avatar
Chris Green
Posts: 2592
Joined: 10 Jul 2012, 13:06
Location: Karlstad, Sweden

Re: Giro d'Italia 2017

Postby Chris Green » 20 May 2017, 08:41

Saturday's stage takes the riders from Castellania to Sacro Monte di Oropa near Biella, mostly across the plain of the Po but ending with a long climb.

Castellania:

Image

No surprise that there is a castle on a hill (there are literally dozens of towns in Italy whose names start with "Castel..."). But what about the spread eagle and fleur de lis? Both Guelph and Ghibelline sympathies?

The Giro passes through Vercelli, which seems at first sight to have a close affinity with St George, though the cathedral favours the local St Eusebius and the basilica St Andrew.

Image

The motto is actually "Potius Mori quam Foedari" (Death before Dishonour), not "... Poedari" as shown. It probably refers to the many sieges that Vercelli has endured.

Biella:

Image

Blazon: D'oro, all'olmo al naturale nodrito sul terrazzo erboso di verde, all'orso al naturale passante ai piedi dell'olmo.


"Olmo" is, as I guessed, an elm tree, and not as is suggested elsewhere a beech. Sadly there seem to be no bears left in the vicinity of Biella.
Chris Green
IAAH President

Apohypaton

User avatar
Michael F. McCartney
Posts: 283
Joined: 24 Apr 2015, 23:34

Re: Giro d'Italia 2017

Postby Michael F. McCartney » 21 May 2017, 02:07

Haven't said it often enough, but I'm really enjoying your armorial Odyssey through Italy!
Michael F. McCartney
Fremont, California

User avatar
Chris Green
Posts: 2592
Joined: 10 Jul 2012, 13:06
Location: Karlstad, Sweden

Re: Giro d'Italia 2017

Postby Chris Green » 21 May 2017, 08:44

Thank you Michael. My Odyssey doesn't make my legs (or other more tender parts) ache!

Today is Sunday and the Giro starts from Valdengo and wends its way, mostly on the flat, to Bergamo.

The arms of Valdengo do not at first sight require any particular comment, but the blazon refers to a particular feature of the tower.

Image

Blazon: Di rosso alle cinque fasce d'oro, con torre merlata alla guelfa, aperta e finestrata.


"Merlata alla guelfa" means that the merlons (sticky-up bits at the top of the tower) must be flat. Ghibelline merlons were swallow-tailed:

Image

Whether the merlons got rebuilt if the castle were to be captured by the other faction I do not know.

Bergamo has very simple arms, but according to the official blazon of the (re)grant of 1959 the arms are superimposed on a blue circle surrounded by rays of the sun "in her glory":

Image

Blazon: Partito d'oro e di rosso, lo scudo accollato ad un cerchio azzurro con la bordura raggiante d'oro, sormontato da una corona di Città.
Chris Green
IAAH President

Apohypaton

User avatar
JMcMillan
Posts: 520
Joined: 13 Jul 2012, 22:33
Location: United States

Re: Giro d'Italia 2017

Postby JMcMillan » 21 May 2017, 13:59

Chris Green wrote:The arms of Valdengo do not at first sight require any particular comment, but the blazon refers to a particular feature of the tower.

Blazon: Di rosso alle cinque fasce d'oro, con torre merlata alla guelfa, aperta e finestrata.


"Merlata alla guelfa" means that the merlons (sticky-up bits at the top of the tower) must be flat. Ghibelline merlons were swallow-tailed.


Oddly enough, the merlons in the civic coronet above the shield are Ghibelline, even though those on the tower in the arms are Guelph. I wonder whether it's intentional.

I can't remember whether it was here in IAAH that we had a previous discussion, but it seems that the traditional heraldic depiction of a chess-rook may represent a Ghibelline swallow-tailed merlon.

Image

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rook_(chess)#History
Last edited by JMcMillan on 21 May 2017, 17:13, edited 1 time in total.
Joseph McMillan
Alexandra, Virginia, USA

User avatar
Chris Green
Posts: 2592
Joined: 10 Jul 2012, 13:06
Location: Karlstad, Sweden

Re: Giro d'Italia 2017

Postby Chris Green » 21 May 2017, 14:43

I had not noticed the merlons in the civic crown! That of course post-dates the arms by several hundred years.

A quick look at other towns suggests that the civic crown usually has the swallow-tailed merlons. Mind you that might be the choice of the artist rather than any political statement.
Chris Green
IAAH President

Apohypaton

User avatar
Chris Green
Posts: 2592
Joined: 10 Jul 2012, 13:06
Location: Karlstad, Sweden

Re: Giro d'Italia 2017

Postby Chris Green » 22 May 2017, 06:44

Today is a rest day for the cyclists.

I cunningly arranged to be on holiday for the last few days of the Giro, so I shall have to complete the last stages in advance. You have to promise not to peep!
Chris Green
IAAH President

Apohypaton

User avatar
Chris Green
Posts: 2592
Joined: 10 Jul 2012, 13:06
Location: Karlstad, Sweden

Re: Giro d'Italia 2017

Postby Chris Green » 23 May 2017, 06:32

Tuesday's stage starts from Rovetta and tackles several mountains before reaching Bormio.

Rovetta:

Image

Blazon: Troncato da una fascia in divisa di azzurro: il primo d'argento al leone di nero rampante; il secondo d'oro ai tre alberi di rovere al naturale disposti in fascia. ornamenti esteriori da Comune.


The "albero di rovere" is the sessile oak (quercus petraea) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quercus_petraea

Rovetta was the scene of a particularly nasty war crime on the night of 27/28 April 1945, which was the direct responsibility of a rogue SOE officer, Paolo Poduje:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rovetta_massacre

Bormio:

Image



But but! These are the arms of Savoy! The province of Sondrio, in which Bormio lies, was never part of Savoy. It was ruled by the Duchy of Milan, then after the Peace of Westphalia (1648) by the Swiss Canton of Graubünden, then in Napoleonic times by the French-controlled Cisalpine Republic, then by Austria following the Congress of Vienna (1815), becoming part of the Kingdom of Italy (House of Savoy) only in 1866. How little Bormio possessed itself of the arms of Savoy (albeit with the coronet of a Count - why a Count?) is a mystery.
Chris Green
IAAH President

Apohypaton

User avatar
Michael F. McCartney
Posts: 283
Joined: 24 Apr 2015, 23:34

Re: Giro d'Italia 2017

Postby Michael F. McCartney » 23 May 2017, 16:53

Perhaps one of the joys of the old rule that duplication of arms was only considered a problem within the same jurisdiction? ;)
My guess (only that) would be that this little town used these simple arms from when Savoy was just one more foreign jurisdiction.
Last edited by Michael F. McCartney on 25 May 2017, 08:03, edited 1 time in total.
Michael F. McCartney
Fremont, California

User avatar
JMcMillan
Posts: 520
Joined: 13 Jul 2012, 22:33
Location: United States

Re: Giro d'Italia 2017

Postby JMcMillan » 24 May 2017, 02:12

Chris Green wrote:But but! These are the arms of Savoy! The province of Sondrio, in which Bormio lies, was never part of Savoy. It was ruled by the Duchy of Milan, then after the Peace of Westphalia (1648) by the Swiss Canton of Graubünden, then in Napoleonic times by the French-controlled Cisalpine Republic, then by Austria following the Congress of Vienna (1815), becoming part of the Kingdom of Italy (House of Savoy) only in 1866. How little Bormio possessed itself of the arms of Savoy (albeit with the coronet of a Count - why a Count?) is a mystery.


According to the Bormio town website http://www.bormio3.it/storia_bormio/stemma.php, the arms "probably date back to the period of Como's influence on the area," which would have been during the Middle Ages. Como's present arms are "Gules a cross argent, in the fourth quarter the word LIBERTAS bendwise sable," but the inscription was only added in the 19th century to differentiate Como's arms from those of the kingdom, according to the Como city website.

The Bormio website goes on to say that "during the period of the dominion of the Bishop of Chur, [also medieval] thanks to the great autonomy [allowed to the town], the use of the Bormio coat of arms spread widely and began to appear on official documents."

Apparently Bormio was disputed for centuries between the bishops of Como and Chur, and the townspeople seem to have played one off against the other to secure considerable municipal liberties, which were later sustained when the area came under the sway of Milan.

(Thanks to Google Translate.)
Joseph McMillan
Alexandra, Virginia, USA

User avatar
Chris Green
Posts: 2592
Joined: 10 Jul 2012, 13:06
Location: Karlstad, Sweden

Re: Giro d'Italia 2017

Postby Chris Green » 24 May 2017, 08:10

Wednesday's stage continues the journey through the Dolomites, starting from the small town of Tirano, which apparently formerly considered a city because of it was walled. The arms presumably refer to these walls.

Image

The finishing line is at the even smaller commune of Canazei, whose arms feature a Chamois in a position described as "alert", which I have not come across with other fauna.

Image

Blazon: D'azzurro al monte roccioso d'argento fondato su una campagna di verde, caricato di un camoscio di nero nella posizione d'allerta.
Chris Green
IAAH President

Apohypaton


Return to “Italian Heraldry”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest