The word storia in Italian means history and, in the case of Sicily, the history is the story. The Trinacria is a case in point.
You can see the Trinacria everywhere, it’s the symbol of Sicily, the head of Medusa, with wings. The one above is on a wall, and the lemons, another Sicilian trademark, are a nice touch. I love the prickly pear.
The Trinacria demonstrates the fertility of the island. At one time, Sicily was the bread basket of the Roman Empire.
Perseus, after cutting off the snaked head of Medusa, gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. In the Trinacria, just as on Athena’s shield, the head of Medusa wards off any invaders, lest they be turned into stone.
The Trinacria is on the official flag of Sicily now, just like it was back in 1282 after a successful revolt against Charles I. It marked the revolution in 1848 as well, and the flag on the left is from that tumultuous year. The head in the centre of today’s Trinacria is replaced with one less threatening to the innocent onlooker who, after all, wouldn’t want to be turned to stone.
It’s said that the three bent legs represent the three capes of Sicily, Peloro, Passero and Lilibeo, all creating the points of the triangular island.
The Isle of Man
When the Normans invaded Sicily in 1072, they took the design of the Trinacria and brought it to the Isle of Man. Since 1270, it’s been used to replace the Viking ship on the previous flag. Their similar three legs wear armour and the boots have spurs, but Medusa and the wheat are missing.
The Latin motto surrounding the Trinacria on the Royal coat of arms for the Isle of Man reads, “Quocunque Jeceris Stabit”–“Whichever way you throw, it will stand”
But let’s have a look at some Sicilian examples.
Here’s a beautiful church window in Palermo
To me, three symbolises the ancient Goddess in her familiar threefold aspect. The Maiden, Mother and Crone. Golly, I’m onto number three now!