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I’ve always found police uniforms very interesting. They show what a country stands for, what people consider important, and what kind of culture prevails. Today it is time for the uniform of the Carabinieri: the crook catchers of Italy. And I assure you: it is anything but boring.
Several police forces
Before showing you the uniforms, let me tell you how the Italian police are organized. Because, unlike many other countries, the Italian police consists of four parts, each specializing in a different area. In the towns and villages, there is the Polizia municipale. This police force was set up by the municipality and is mainly responsible for keeping the streets safe. Amongst other things, they hand out fines and deal with traffic accidents.
At a national level, is the Guardia di Finanza essentially responsible for dealing with financial crime. These are fiscal police dealing with tax evasion, economic crime, and permits. The Polizia di Stato helps the Polizia municipale in the bigger cities. They are also responsible for law enforcement and safety on motorways, railways, airports, waterways, and customs. In some cases, they also cooperate with the L’arma dei Carabinieri or Carabinieri for short. The Carabinieri deal with serious crime, ensure public order, and provide security during natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. They have military status and supervise the army and participate in military missions.
Uniform of the Carabinieri: the crook catchers of Italy
The Carabinieri was founded in 1814 before Italy even existed. Victor Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia, founded the corps to protect the kingdom. The name is derived from the French word carabinier, which means“soldierarmed with a carbine”.
Over the last two hundred years, the uniforms were adapted and updated several times. For example, at one point instead of a jacket, they wore a cape, which offered better protection. Besides protection, it easily fitted over a backpack and they could simply roll it up and pack it away when it was not needed.
At the beginning of the 1900s, the uniforms worn during the war were modified. The cape was replaced with a jacket and a distinction was made between winter clothing (in black) and summer clothing, with mainly light colors. Ribbons showing heroic achievements were also added.
Daily police uniform
The old uniforms clearly show that appearance was a serious matter. You see contrasting colors, buttons, and emblems. And that is no different nowadays. The Carabinieri now wear uniforms designed by the world-famous Italian fashion designer Valentino. The daily summer uniform consists of dark blue or black trousers, with or without a red stripe on the side. This is combined with a light or medium blue shirt and matching hat with the Carabinieri logo.
In the colder months, a dark coat is worn, including an oblique white band.
The heavy work
But they don’t always look so chic and dapper. During covert operations or heavier missions, the clothing is usually less conspicuous.
If there is an opportunity to take out the full dress uniform, they do. On special occasions, the large cape makes a reappearance, and the beautifully decorated uniform includes colored feathers on the head.
These stunning uniforms are not only for the people who work in the field, security guards also dress beautifully for such occasions.
Classic and chic
We know Italy as the land of fashion and the Carabinieri proves this once again. The uniforms are tight around the body, radiate authority, and are anything but boring. I love looking at them. What do you think of them?