This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Ticino canton (Switzerland)

Last modified: 2024-06-08 by martin karner
Keywords: switzerland | ticino | italian |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Flag of Ticino] image by T.F. Mills

See also:

Description of the flag

Per fess gules and azure.

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.
T.F. Mills, 3 November 1997

Symbolism of the flag

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 adopted.
T.F. Mills, 3 November 1997

History of the flag

The original three Forest Cantons (Waldstätten) 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 Waldstätten. In 1798, Lugano and Bellinzona were organised as cantons in the Helvetic Republic.

With the restoration of the Swiss Confederation in 1803, Lugano and Bellinzona merged into the new Canton of Ticino, the only (entirely) 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 September 1804 that the red should be over the blue, but there 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.
T.F. Mills, 3 November 1997

[Flag of Ticino canton (probably 1797). Inscription: PATRIA | LIBERTÀ | CANTONE TICINO. Obverse and reverse are identical (source: [b7b42]). –
Banner of Ticino canton (ca. 1803), vertically hanging, on the horizontal arms of the cross the inscriptions LIBERTÀ and INDIPENDENZA; on the upper vertical arm SVIZZERA; inscription on the lower arm not readable because of damaged cloth. 190x175 cm, linen. Location: Historical Museum, Lugano (source > slide 22). –
Commemorative medal (1803/1804), with coat of arms, honoring the decision of 20 May 1803 to become a member of the Swiss Confederation. Inscription on obverse: VIRTVTI CIVIVM PRAEMIVM EST PATRIAE LAVS (The virtue of the citizens is the first [or most important] law of the country). On reverse: PAGI TICINENSIS LIBERA COMITIA XX MAII MDCCCIII (The free election [or assembly] of the Land of Ticino, 20 May 1803) and HELVETIORUM FOEDUS AEQUE RENOVATUM (The covenant of the Swiss is equally renewed) (source). –
Military flag after the regulation of 1809, with golden inscription: "PRO PATRIA" (for the fatherland) and "PAGUS TICINENSIS" (Canton of Ticino) (source: [ges43]). –
Flag of the Carabinieri Ticinesi, Locarno section (1834, b/w photo). 85x60 cm. The cloth is split of red and blue. The writing, the carbine rifles and the wreath are embroidered in silver. The reverse of the flag is all in red with a white Swiss Cross, surrounded by the golden writing Uno per tutti, tutti per uno, with green wreath. Golden fringes on three borders, two golden pompoms on opposite corners (source: [b7b42]). –
Allegory of the Republic and Canton of Ticino (1899), with Ticino flag, by Adelchi Maina, detail of the ceiling painting in the cantonal parliament building in Bellinzona. Tempera. (source)]

Colour Flag

[Colour Flag TI] image located by Martin Karner

Rectangular cantonal flag, as shown in Mader (1942) (So-called colour flag [Farbenfahne in German]).
Martin Karner

Coat or Arms

[Flag of Lucerne] image by António Martins-Tuválkin

Flaggen, Knatterfahnen and Livery Colours




[livery colours]

images by Pascal Gross

Flaggen are vertically hoisted from a crossbar in the manner of gonfanon, in ratio of abou 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.

Željko Heimer, 16 July 2000

Early 20th century flag design

       images located by Martin Karner
(source)                                                                                (source)

At the beginning of the 20th century, flamed flags were still in use, with the white cross replaced by a (baroque) shield in the centre of the flag. These decorative flags had been used until WWII and then somewhat forgotten in preference of the current cantonal flags. [Today they are being produced again, see right image]
Pascal Gross, 30 June 2002

See also:   - Other examples of "Early 20th century flag design": CH, AG, AI, AR, BE, BL, BS, FR, GE, GL, GR, JU, LU, NE, NW, OW, SG, SH, SO, SZ, TG, UR, VD, VS, ZG, ZH
                 - Modern flamed flags


image located by Martin Karner (8 May 2024)