In these last few weeks the red-white-and-green Italian flag has been selling like hot cakes. The 150th anniversary has fired the Italians with patriotic spirit to the point that it is reminiscent of five years ago, when the Italian national soccer team beat its French rivals in Berlin.
But not all the flags hanging from balconies and windows are the same, or rather, not all of them are Italian. A lot of them come from the Far East. The invasion of flags made in China is inevitable and although the Italian people are united in their celebration of the festivities, many are doing it with low-cost imports. One of the many examples is a company in Concorezzo, near Milan, where an Asian import-export company with headquarters in the town presented 2000 flags of various sizes to the municipality free, enabling the town to save quite a bit of money. This episode is emblematic, to say the least.
«Of course we are worried about competition from China, no sector can escape it» says Claudio Ventricini of Manifattura italiana bandiere, the company located in Settebagni (Rome) specialized in the production of banners of all kinds, Italy's in particular. The company has a glorious history. The famous dirigible "Italia" launched one of its flags when it reached the North Pole during the expedition that took place between the two wars. And another waves bravely atop K2.
Those were the days! When the Chinese had not yet become a threat to the Italian textile industry. But even the flags were not quite the same in those days. Now that a specific decree has regulated the colors, there is no longer any room for eccentric tints and the interpretations of mildly colorblind designers. Fern green, bright white and scarlet red: these are the official colors, based on the Pantone shadecard that is used for printing. The standards produced by Manifattura italiana bandiere are not only linked to historic events, however.
Among the customers of the Roman company are the offices of the President of the Republic. Supplies range from the extralarge flag that stands in Napolitano's office to those raised every morning over his official residences. In addition to the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies, the Prime Minister's office, the Higher Council of Judges, the Court of Accounts, the various ministries, the general command of the Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza (the two militarized police forces), the Holy See and numerous Municipal, Provincial and Regional headquarters.
«The institutional focus goes back to Pertini's presidency» as we are told, following a quick background check, by Mr. Ventricini, heir to a family tradition that must not always be an easy burden on his shoulders. He has been very busy lately. In the last month, the company on the outskirts of the capital, with just 15 employees, has had to fill extraordinary orders for pennants and XXL flags. Prices? From 300 euro for the giant flags to 25 cents for the smallest pennants. No even the Chinese could have offered a better price.