Italy was a land of nation-states and kingdoms. In the late 18th century, Napoleon’s forces invaded what is now northern Italy. With the Duchy of Milan overthrown, in 1796 the Cisalpine Republic was born and a new flag flown. Inspired by the French flag, the blue band was changed to green, representing the uniforms of the Milan Civil Guard, while the red and white bands from the original flag of Milan remained. The shape, however, was a square.
With the spread of Italian culture around the world, many people are familiar with the sight of Italy’s national flag. The green, white and red colors or il tricolore as it is called in Italian has three equal vertical bands with the green on the hoist side. There were many variations of the flag in earlier years, representing Italy’s long journey to becoming a united nation.