Significance of the peace flags with coloured stripes seen in Italy, 2003

Stephen Hewitt, 9 March 2003

Peace flag with multi-coloured rainbow stripes, text 'PACE', on a balcony in Lecce, Italy February 2003
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Lecce, 9 March 2003: Everywhere I have been in Italy in the last few months, I have seen these banners: in Bologna, in Abruzzo, driving past Bari, in Lecce and other towns in Puglia. They have horizontal stripes, each stripe a different colour like a rainbow, from blue at the top to red at the bottom. In the centre of the flag is printed in white "PACE", the Italian word for peace. They are for sale in shops in the city centre here in Lecce. You can't say every house has one - some streets don't have any - but you can't walk very far without being able to see one.

Some clue to their significance came from an A4 sized poster displayed in a shop window in Lecce (in the bottom right hand corner of this photograph) which read as follows.

Rendiamo Visibile il nostro "NO" alla guerra!

Raccogliendo gli appelli di molte organizzazioni umanitarie a sostenere la pace con ogni mezzo, invitiamo tutti ad aderire all'iniziativa nazionale "PACE DA TUTTI I BALCONI"

I media amplificano i messaggi di guerra con l'obiettivo di renderci assuefatti all'orrore, amplifichiamo i messaggi di pace noi, con i nostri mezzi popolari e con la forza dei nostri valori. Esponiamo da subito la Bandiere della Pace ai balconi delle nostre case e lasciamola ben visibile finché non sarà definitivamente scongiurata la minaccia di un conflitto armato.

Translated, this means something like the following.

Make our "NO" to war visible!

Responding to the appeals of many humanitarian organizations to maintain peace by all means we invite everybody to support the national initiative "PEACE FROM EVERY BALCONY"

The media are magnifying war messages, with the object of making us accustomed to horror. We magnify messages of peace with our popular measure and with the strength of our values. We advocate immediately putting the Peace Banners in the balconies of our houses and leaving them there until the menace of an armed conflict is definitely averted.

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