The lion and the unicorn form the centrepiece of the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, the lion represents England, the unicorn, Scotland. The United States adopted the bald headed eagle in 1782 as the national symbol, and a double headed version, associated with Empire, was used by the Romans, and the Romanoff's!
Great Italian families (and the less well-known), have coats of arms which often point to the family's origins, apart from advertising their power and grandeur.
The Medici Family - Florence
There are many theories about the crest of the Medici family that ruled Florence, and then the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from 1434 to 1737
The origin of the balls on the coat of arms hint at the Medici’s trade in oranges with the East while the pills explain the name of the family (Medici means “doctors” in Italian), as pills were apparently round and red during the Middle Ages.
The Medici drew inspiration from the source of their wealth, banking: the “balls” – as Florentines refer to them – are set on a gold field, five red and a sixth, blue and containing three golden lilies.
As in many other noble families, there’s also a mythical origin associated with the Medici’s coat of arms. The balls are the dents left by the hammer of the Mugello, a giant Lombard warrior, on the shield of Averardo de Medici, the forefather of the Medici family and commander of Charlemagne’s army.
The Sforza Family - Milan
The biscione, also known as "the vipera", shows an azure serpent in the act of consuming a human, usually a child. It was the emblem of the Visconti family of Milan from the 11th century and became associated with Milan as the Visconti gained control over the city. When the Visconti family died out in the 15th century, the emblem retained its association with the Duchy of Milan and became part of the coats of arms of the House of Sforza.
As the symbol of Milan, the biscione is also used by the football club Inter Milan, by car manufacturer Alfa Romeo (also known as the "Casa del biscione") and is even the symbol of Silvio Berlusconi's media empire. The atrium of the "Filarete's tower" in the Sforza Castle ("Castello Sforzesco") in Milan has another emblem of the House of Sforza, shows a dove and a "razza" (sunbeam), perhaps to show the gentler side of the ruling family. The motto is French : "à bon droit" meaning rightful ruler, in case anyone forgot.
The Este Family - Ferrara
Ferrara rises on the banks of the Po River, in the southern plains of Emilia Romagna. This magnificent town is inextrcably linked to the House of Este. In fact, the German branch of the Este family provided the Hanovarian Kings and Queens of Britian. The Este family is attributed with the ambitious urban project (called the Herculean Addition) that transformed Ferrara from a medieval citadel into a true Renaissance masterpiece and is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The coat of arms has the eagle symbol of empire with a crown over it's head to re-iterate the point. It is seen on buildings all around the old town center, one of the best-preserved examples of a Medieval city in Italy, dotted with monuments, churches, cloisters, green expanses, historic buildings and palazzi; first and foremost among them is the Estense Castle.
The Bagni Family - Reno Centese, Ferrara.
More modest families also have a coats of arms, albeit not for forging an empire. The Bagni family and 99 other families of the area, who cleared the Emilian forests and swamps in the middle ages, were all provided with a family coat of arms. The 100 familes still enjoy local priviledges and rights that date back hundreds of years.
The two rampant lions on the crest suggest bravery, valour and strength which would have been required in spades to clear the the Medieval marshes of Emilia Romagna.
The Bagni family house, dating from the 16th Century, is on sale with Realpoint. A four bedroom Villa with 690 m2 of floor space plus a three-bedroom annex on two floors enclosed in grounds of 4,000 m2.
Take a look at some of the properties in the Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Lombardia below, we can't provide a coat of arms but we can find your place in the sun.