Horizontally divided into equal parts red over blue. Like Lucerne,
but for reasons unknown, Ticino's arms are different from the flag,
and the two are often confused. The arms are divided vertically
("per pale gules and azure"). Like several of the flags of cantons
created in 1803, Ticino's is heraldically incorrect in that tincture
touches tincture (red and blue) without fimbriation.
The symbolism of the Ticino flag has been lost, but there are
numerous theories. The most plausible is that the red and blue were
derived from the predominant colours of the arms of the eight
districts which came to form Ticino. The flag may also have been
inspired by the red and blue of the Cisalpine Republic of 1797.
Less plausible theories include red for the the Swiss Confederation
and blue for the sky over Italy, thus denoting "Italian Switzerland";
or that Ticino borrowed the colours from the arms of Paris and
intended to honour the French Revolution or Napoleon. Least
plausible is the idea that red stands for the liberal party and blue
the conservatives, but neither party existed at the time the flag was
The original three Forest Cantons (Waldstaetten) began expanding
southwards into Italian states as early as the 13th century. Their
conquests were confirmed in a perpetual peace signed with France in
1516 after the Italian wars. Some regions were administered by the
whole Confederation, and others by the three Waldstaetten. In 1798,
Lugano and Bellinzona were organised as cantons in the Helvetic
With the restoration of the Swiss Confederation in 1803, Lugano and
Bellinzona merged into the new Canton of Ticino, the only
Italian-speaking canton in modern Switzerland. In May 1803, two
months after the creation of the canton, the Great Council resolved
that the arms would be red and blue but did not specify their
relative positions. The Council determined in Spetember 1804 that
the red should be over the blue, but their remained confusion between
the arms and the flag. In 1809 the canton organised its military
forces, and adopted a red over blue battle flag with the gold
inscriptions "Pro Patria" in the upper part, and "Pagus Ticinensis"
in the lower. The plain red and blue flag was decisively established
by law in 1930.
Flaggen are vertically hoisted from a crossbar in the manner of gonfanon, in ratio of about 2:9, with a swallowtail that indents about 2 units. The chief, or hoist (square part) usually incorporates the design from the coat of arms - not from the flag. The fly part is always divided lengthwise, usually in a bicolour, triband or tricolour pattern (except Schwyz which is monocolour, and Glarus which has four stripes of unequal width). The colours chosen for the fly end are usually the main colours of the coat of arms, but the choice is not always straight forward.
Knatterfahnen are similar to Flaggen, but hoisted from the long side and have no swallow tail. They normally show the national, cantonal or communal flag in their chiefs.