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Sicilian Culture: The Trinacria

The Trinacria The word or term Trinacria means "triangle" as for the shape of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean.  The Greeks called it Trinakrias, the Romans called it Trinacrium, meaning "star with 3 points".  Today its known as Sicily, or Sicilia in Italian.

Below is a mosaic of the trinicria which dates back to the 3rd century BC.  The photo appears in the book TRINAKIE Breve storia semiseria della Sicilia by Nino Cirnigliaro with photos by Ciccio Gurrieri, Utopia Edizioni, 1994, Ragusa. The Greeks circumnavigated the island and noted the three capes, Peloro, Passero, and Lilibeo, forming three points of a triangle in the northeast, the southeast, and the west. "Taken by its beauty they likened its shores to the legs of a woman" and represented the island with the TRINAKIE.

The Sicilian Banner recently adopted by the autonomous region of Sicily has the Trinacria in its center on a shield of yellow gold and red-orange. This is a photograph that I took of the banner as it now hangs in the Palazzo Reale, the seat of the Regional Parliament.

The head in the center was that of Medusa, whose hair was turned into snakes by the outraged goddess Athene. In their wisdom, the Sicilian parliament replaced the Medusa head with one that is less threatening to the innocent onlooker who, after all, should not be anticipating being turned to stone.

Required Reading for Italian-Americans...


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