The Italian tricolor, il Tricolore, consists of vertical stripes of green, white and red. The green is always next to the pole, the white in the middle, and the red at the end.
It was modelled on the French flag but green was used instead of blue. This change of color took place in 1796 when the Lombard Natonal Guard and later the Italian Voluntary Lombard Legion were formed; it is said that the colors were suggested by Napoleon whose favorite color was green.
Dante offered an alternate explanation in his Divine Comedy. He claimed the colors represented the three cardinal virtues: hope (green), faith (white) and charity (red).
In 1797 the green-white-red colors became the flag of the Cisalpine Republic, then in 1802 of the Italian Republic which became the Kingdom of Italy in 1805, lasting until 1814.
The tricolor flag was restored in 1848 when Victor Emmanuel II, King of Sardinia-Piedmont, adopted it as his flag, placing in its center the coat of arms of his House of Savoy - a silver cross on a red shield with a blue border. In this form the tricolor became the flag of united Italy in 1861; only in 1946 when the country became a republic was the royal coat of arms removed from the flag.