Sicily’s Symbol The Trinacria

The Trinacria, pictured, always intrigues! It is the symbol of Sicily that you’ll see on its flag and depicted in various forms all over the island. Three legs joined at the center is an ancient symbol, one that also appears on the coat of arms of the Isle of Man, an island in the Irish Sea between the United Kingdom and Ireland. I’ve heard that the legs represent the difficulty that ancient sailors had finding these two islands–that the land masses spun, while floating through the seas, so on maps mariners marked them with the legs to illustrate their constant movement. Another theory is that the legs are running and represent the cycle of nature. Today, most say that the legs represent the three promontories of Sicily: Capo Peloro-Punto del Faro, the northeastern-most point of Sicily in Messina province; Portopalo di Capo Passero, the southeastern-most point in Siracusa province; and Lilibeo or Capo Boeo in Marsala, Sicily’s westernmost point.

The word Trinacria comes from the ancient Greek name for Sicily, Triskelion, meaning three-pointed, reflecting that the said capes form a triangle-shape.

In the center is the head of the gorgon Medusa, which appeared on many of the pre-Christian temples in order to warn potential attackers of the Greek people’s strength. Over time, Medusa’s hair of snakes was transformed into shafts of wheat, representing Sicily’s fertility and its role as the granary of the Roman Empire.

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