Heraldry in Italy

Take a heraldic tour of Venice, Tuscany, Rome! A collection of about 75 photographs illustrates Italian heraldry as it is displayed on palaces and in churches.


  • Other Resources on the Web
  • Arms of the House of Savoia
  • Italian Nobility and Regulation of Heraldry
  • Pre-Unification Italian States
  • Bibliography
  • Thanks to Federico Bona for suggestions and corrections.

    Other Resources on the Web

    See the Home page of the Torrione Castle in Italy for some examples of Italian heraldry.

    Blasonario Piemontese, an illustrated armory of 1,200 families of Piedmont and Savoy (in Italian).

    There are several articles on Italian heraldry, nobility and chivalry by Louis Mendola on Caltrap's Corner. See also his essay on the charateristics of early Italian heraldry.

    See also Arnaud Bunel's illustrated armory of Italian territories.

    A useful site: Numismatica et Monete Italiane.

    Italian Nobility and Heraldry

    According to Philip M. Thomas in Burke's Peerage, "On 27th September, 1947, the Italian Republic abolished titles. Those granted after 1922 are revoked, but those existing before then though no longer titles of nobility are recognized as part of the family name. In practice, however, and socially, titles whenever granted are borne now just as in the days of the monarchy...The Roman nobility is and always has been separate, and was not affected by the law of 1947."

    Prior to the abolition of nobility, the Consulta Araldica, created in the 1860s, served as adviser to the government on heraldic matters, and as registry of authentic nobiliary titles. Its role was defined by a decree-law of March 20, 1924: no one can use any title or nobiliary attribute if he is not registered as legitimately invested with such title or attributes in the register of the Consulta Araldica. All judicial proceedings in litigation over titles and nobiliary attributes must be notified to the Consulta, and any decision of the courts must be registered. Anyone illegally using titles in official documents, legal acts, or in ordinary social relations (ordinari rapporti sociali) is liable to a fine of L1000 to L5000. Second offenses are liable to double fines. Part of the fine can be awarded to the denunciator.

    Since 1947 things have changed.

    From DLatini@leland.stanford.edu (David Latini):

    The Consulta Araldica is no more. The information I have is from an entry for "Italy, Armorial Practice" I photocopied from a dictionary of heraldry (Fry's, I think) many months ago. There is supposed to be a Collegio Araldica that publishes the Libro D'Oro (Golden Book). The Collegio was f ounded in 1858 and is now supported by the Italian aristocracy. There are also two organizations recognized by the royal family: a National Heraldic Council and a Central Heraldic Commission. While the information I have doesn't say so, I assume neither of these two groups nor the Collegio has any official recognition from the Italian government.

    Something else to be aware of is the Italian Genealogical and Heraldic Institute in Palermo. They primarily work as genealogical researchers, but do heraldic art work as well. One of the principals, Luigi Mendola, writes articles for POINT, the Italian genealogy publication. His views on heraldry are very similar to the prevailing ones in this group: no "arms for the Ferrara family," arms can be inherited from an armigerous ancestor, etc. They also make it plain they're not interested in acting as a bucket shop. While I haven't used these folks myself, others in POINTers have and have had very positive things to say about their genealogical services. Your mileage may vary. Address is Presso Casati-Mendola, Via M. D'Azeglio, 9-B, 90143 Palermo Italy.


    From: ugopg@vol.it (Ugo Patroni Griffi):

    As a matter of fact there are several avaible Italian books on heraldry:

    The most respected publisher of heraldic books is: Arnaldo Forni Editore, Sala Bolognese (Bologna), Via Gramsci, 164, 40010 Italy (tel. ++39/51/6824142, fax ++39/51/6814672).

    From: pmartell@midway.uchicago.edu