Why are Italian athletes called "Azzurri"?

Have you ever wondered why Italian athletes in international competitions wear blue uniforms and are called "Azzurri"?

The origin of this custom dates back to 1911, when the Italian national football team faced Hungary in Milan. Since then, "maglia azzurra" indicates the international appearance of the Italian teams.
The history of this color has a much more noble tradition in our country. There is a color called "Savoia blue": an intermediate chromatic gradation between peacock blue and periwinkle. It owes its name to the fact that it is the color of the Savoy family, the dynasty that reigned in Italy from 1861 to 1946.

The origin of the color seems to date back to 1366 when Amedeo VI of Savoy, before leaving for the crusade wanted by Pope Urban V in defense of the Byzantine emperor Giovanni V Paleologo, had a flag hoisted on the flagship of his fleet blue next to the red-crusader silver banner of the Savoy. The choice had a religious implication as blue is also considered the color of the Madonna. From that moment on, blue was always part of the Savoy flags and ceremonial.

The ribbons of the Order of the Annunciation, the highest knightly insignia of the House of Savoy and the Kingdom of Italy, are also blue.
In heraldry blue means law and command, which is why it became the national color with the unity of Italy (1861) and continued to be used even after the birth of the Republic (1946).
The Savoy blue is inserted on the edge of the Italian presidential banner and on the institutional flags of some offices public, on the distinctive band of the presidents of the provinces of Italy and on the aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori.

Even the expression "principe azzurro" (prince charming) refers to the color of the Savoy, a dynasty that for almost a millennium it had an important role in European affairs and that it actually could generate fairytale princes.

Thanks to Scuola Leonardo da Vinci Turin for this article.

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