Cappello Alpino

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A Cappello Alpino of an Alpino Engineer: with Raven feather, Amaranth nappina and the heraldic symbol of the 2nd Alpine Engineer and 32nd Alpine Engineer Regiments

The Cappello Alpino is the most distinctive feature of the Italian Army's Alpini troops uniform. The Alpini are light Infantry troops, specializing in mountain combat. Initially the Cappello was only issued to the Alpini, but soon the Cappello was adopted by the Alpini Corps' support units like Artillery, signals, engineers. Today the Cappello is issued to members of 15 Army regiments, 3 battalions and various high commands. Thanks to the black raven feather, which is carried on each Alpini soldiers Cappello, the Alpinis are known as Le Penne Nere ("The Black Feathers") in Italy. A nickname the Alpini quickly adopted for themselves.

History[edit]

On June 7, 1883, the "Fiamme Verdi" (green flames) collar patches were introduced thus making the Alpini officially a specialty within the Italian infantry corps. At the same time the issuing of the Cappello Alpino began. At first the hat was a round black felt hat, nicknamed bombetta (bowler hat), but with the introduction of the new green-grey uniform in 1910 the hat was changed to the distinctive grey felt hat that is still retained today. The Cappello Alpino is made of grey felt a quarter of an inch thick. In the front the rim is flattened to protect the face from rain and snow. On the left and right side four small metal encrusted holes allow for an exchange of air. Around the lower half of the round top section a green-grey leather band and for officers a golden braid encompasses the Cappello. Inside the Cappello has a two-inch black leather band where Cappello and head meet.

Each Cappello carries symbols which identify the wearers rank, unit and specialization:

  • the feather, symbolizing the Alpini Corps
  • the fregio, a coat of arms indicating the regiment
  • the nappina, a colored tuft denoting the battalion (later the specialization too)
  • the rank insignia for non-commissioned and commissioned officers

Description[edit]

The feather[edit]

Each soldier is issued with a black raven feather, which he will carry at all times on the Cappello Alpino. When in combat the feather will be placed on the left side of the helmet. Officers above the rank of captain originally wore a white eagle feather, which has been replaced in later years by a white goose feather. Non-commissioned officers and officers up to the rank of captain continue to carry a black eagle feather. The feather is approximately 10-12 inches long and is carried with a slight backward and inbound inclination on the left side of the Cappello.

The Fregio[edit]

The fregio is a coat of arms indicating the wearer's regiment. It is black for soldiers, golden for officers; both variants are sewn to the front of the Cappello. Today, soldiers serving on a permanent basis are issued the golden variant of the fregio too. Each fregio carries an eagle with spread wings on top and below symbols, which indicate the wearer's regiments specialization (i.e. artillery regiment, logistics regiment,...) and at the center of the fregio a half-inch circle with the regiment's number.

The symbols indicating a regiment's specialization are:

  • Alpini: eagle with spread wings, two blowing horns, crossed rifles
  • Mountain Artillery: eagle with spread wings, two blowing horns, crossed cannons
  • Engineers: eagle with spread wings, two blowing horns, crossed axes
  • Sappers: eagle with spread wings, two blowing horns, a gladius short sword, a burning grenade, crossed axes
  • Signals: eagle with spread wings, two blowing horns, round antenna, crossed axes and flashes of lightning
  • Materials and Transport: eagle with spread wings above a spur gear with spread wings
  • Medical officers: eagle with spread wings above a five-pointed star with the red cross symbol and crossed staff of Asclepius
  • Medical troops: eagle with spread wings above a five-pointed star with the red cross symbol
  • Alpini Generals: a stylized silver eagle with spread wings, holding a silver laurel wreath, with a central red shield inscribed with the silver letters "RI" (for Repubblica Italiana), all together on a ribbon of red cloth.

The Nappina[edit]

Description[edit]

Flag of the Kingdom of Italy

The nappina is a small piece of wood, on which a tuft of colored wool threads is sewn. The piece of wood contains a little hole, in which the feather is sheathed. Also a thin bended wire juts out from the wood to allow the nappina to be latched onto the left side of the Cappello Alpino. The nappina were first issued to distinguish between the battalions in an Alpini regiment:

  • Nappina bianca.png I battalion
  • Nappina rossa.png II battalion
  • Nappina verde.png III battalion
  • Nappina blu.png IV battalion and battalions not assigned to a regiment

The colors are the same as found on the Italian flag of the Kingdom of Italy. Soldiers of the Mountain Artillery units were issued a green tuft with a black patch in the middle onto which the number of their battery was written in yellow. Officers below the rank of general and non-commissioned officers wear a golden colored metal wrap and generals a silver colored metal wrap instead of the nappina. Later further nappinas were issued in various colors and forms.

Alpini[edit]

For an overview of the nappinas of all Alpini battalions see the main article about the Alpini.

Today the following units continue to carry the nappina:

Other Alpini units[edit]

The Alpini, not assigned to one of the traditional Alpini battalions, carry either a blue nappina or a blue nappina with a black roundel on which the type of superior unit is inscribed.

Nappina
Description
Units
Italian unit name
Nappina blu - Comando Alpino.png
blue, black roundel, white "CA" Support units of the 4th Alpine Army Corps
  • 4th Alpine Army Corps Headquarter (1973-1997)
  • 4th Alpine Army Corps Command Battalion (1973-1997)
  • 4th Alpine Army Corps Alpini Parachutist Company (1963-1991)
  • Alpini Parachutist Company Monte Cervino (1991-1996)
  • Alpini Parachutist Battalion Monte Cervino (1996-2004)
  • Quartier generale del 4° Corpo d'Armata alpino
  • Reparto comando del 4° Corpo d'Armata alpino
  • Compagnia alpini paracadutisti del 4° Corpo d'Armata alpino
  • Compagnia alpini paracadutisti "Monte Cervino"
  • Battaglione alpini paracadutisti "Monte Cervino"
Nappina blu - Comando Truppe Alpine.png
blue, black roundel, white "TA" Support units of the Alpine Troops Command (COMALP)
  • Reparto comando del COMALP
  • Reparto comando e supporti tattici "Tridentina"
  • 4º Reggimento alpini paracadutisti
Nappina blu - Brigade supports.png
blue, black roundel, white "B" Support units of the Alpine brigades
  • Brigade Command Platoons (1949-1958)
  • Brigade Headquarters (1958-1975)
  • Brigade Command and Signal Battalions (1975-1993)
  • Brigade Command and Tactical Support Battalions (1993-today)
Nappina blu - Depositi di Brigata.png
blue, black roundel, white "D" Brigade Deposits (1934-1950s)
Nappina blu - Regimental supports.png
blue, black roundel, white "R" Support units of the Alpini regiments
  • Regiment Command Companies (1948-1975)
  • Regiment Mortar Companies (1948-1975)
  • Command and Service Companies (1991-2001)
  • Command and Logistic Support Companies (2001-today)
Nappina blu compagnia controcarri.png
blue, black roundel, white "C/C" Anti-tank Companies of the brigades (1975-1991)
Nappina blu.png
blue Schools and Training
  • Central Military Alpinism School (1934-1943)
  • Military Alpine School (1948-1998)
  • Alpine Training Center (1998-today)
  • Alpini Training Battalions and Companies (1945-1975)
  • Scuola militare centrale di alpinismo
  • Scuola militare alpina
  • Centro addestramento alpino

Artillery[edit]

The Mountain Artillery units of the Alpine troops carry a green nappina with a black or yellow roundel on which the number of the battery or the type of superior unit is inscribed. The units in service, which carry an Artillery nappina, are the:

Nappina
Description
Units
Italian unit name
Nappina artiglieria 1 btr.png
Green, black roundel, yellow number Mountain Artillery Batteries (1934-today)

(the number corresponds with a battery's number)

Nappina artiglieria - Deposito di Reggimento.png
Green, black roundel, yellow "D" Regimental Deposits (1934-1945)
Nappina artiglieria - Reparto Comando.png
Green, black roundel, yellow "RC" Headquarter units (Italian: Reparto Comando)
  • Artillery Regiment Headquarters (1934-1975)
  • Artillery Group Headquarters (1934-1973)
Nappina artiglieria CG.png
Green, black roundel, yellow "CG"
  • Artillery Group Command and Service Batteries (1973-1992)
  • Artillery Regiment Command and Service Batteries (1992-2001)
  • Artillery Regiment Command and Logistic Support Batteries (2001-today)
Nappina artiglieria - Supporti di Artiglieria del 4° C.png
Green, yellow roundel, "CA" nero Artillery units of the 4th Alpine Army Corps
  • 4th Heavy Field Artillery Regiment (1975-1986)
  • 4th Heavy Field Artillery Group Pusteria (1986-1991)
  • 184th Heavy Field Artillery Group Filottrano (1986-1991)
  • 4th then 3rd Artillery Specialists Group Bondone (1975/86-1986/92)
  • 4º Reggimento artiglieria pesante campale
  • 4º Gruppo Artiglieria pesante campale "Pusteria"
  • 184º Gruppo Artiglieria pesante campale "Filottrano"
  • 4° e poi 3º Gruppo Specialisti Artiglieria "Bondone"
Nappina verde.png
Green Artillery Schools and Courses
  • ASC, ACS and AUC / SAUSA courses in Foligno (1960-1981)
  • AUC courses and Army Artillery School in Bracciano (1981-2001)

Engineers and Signals[edit]

The Engineer and Signal units of the Alpine troops carry an amaranth nappina; units that supported the 4th Alpine Army Corps directly had "CA" in white inscribed on the nappina.

Nappina
Description
Units
Italian unit name
Nappina amarante - Compagnie miste genio delle Divisioni alpine.png
Amaranth, black roundel, white number Mixed Engineer Companies of the Alpine Divisions (1935-1939)

(the number corresponded with the companies number)

Nappina amarante.png
Amaranth all units of the Alpine Engineers Corps (1939-1945)
  • Mixed Engineer Battalions of the Alpine Divisions
  • Mixed Engineer, Craftsmen and Sapper Battalions
  • Autonomous Mixed Engineer and Sapper Companies

Engineer and Signal units of the Alpine Brigades (1949-2001)

  • Brigade Engineer Companies (1949-2001)
  • Brigade Signal Companies (1953-1975)

Engineer and Signal Regiments








  • 2° Reggimento genio guastatori alpino
  • 2º Reggimento trasmissioni alpino
  • 32° Reggimento genio guastatori alpino
Nappina amarante - Unità del Genio e delle Trasmissioni supporti del 4° C.A.png
Amaranth, black roundel, white "CA" Engineer and Signal units of the 4th Alpine Army Corps
  • 2nd Engineer Battalion Iseo (1976-1995)
  • 4th Engineer Battalion Orta (1976-1992)
  • 4th Signal Battalion Gardena (1976-1992)
  • 7th Army Corps Signal Company (1976-1992)
  • 1st Engineer Regiment (1992-1995)
  • 2nd Signal Regiment (1992-1997)
  • 2nd Engineer Regiment (1995-1997)
  • 2º Battaglione genio guastatori "Iseo"
  • 4º Battaglione genio pionieri "Orta"
  • 4º Battaglione trasmissioni "Gardena"
  • 7ª Compagnia trasmissioni di C.A.
  • 1º Reggimento genio pionieri
  • 2º Reggimento trasmissioni
  • 2º Reggimento genio guastatori

Logistic Services[edit]

Military logistics units (Transport, Medical, Veterinary, Administrative, Commissariat and Maintenance units) carry a violet nappina; units that supported the 4th Alpine Army Corps directly had "CA" in white inscribed on the nappina.

Nappina
Description
Units
Italian unit name
Nappina viola.png
Violet Logistic Services of the Alpine Divisions(1935-1943)

Logistic Services of the Alpine Brigades (1949-2001)

  • Brigade Logistic Services (1949-1967
  • Brigade Logistic Services Commands (1956-1967)
  • Brigade Logistic Services Groups (1967-1976)
  • Brigade Logistic Battalions (1976-2001)
  • Taurinense Brigade air-transportable Medical Group (1976-2001)

Logistic Regiments




  • Reparto sanità aviotrasportabile della Brigata alpina "Taurinense"
  • 24º Reggimento logistico di manovra "Dolomiti"
  • 24º Reggimento di manovra
  • 1º Reggimento di manovra
Nappina viola - Servizi Logistici del 4CA Alpino.png
Violet, black roundel, white "CA" Logistic services of the 4th Alpine Army Corps
  • 4th Army Corps Transport Group Claudia (1976-1986)
  • 4th Army Corps Supply and Maintenance Department (1976-1981)
  • 4th Logistic Maneuver Battalion (1981-1986)
  • 24th Logistic Maneuver Battalion Dolomiti (1986-1992)
  • 24th Logistic Maneuver Regiment Dolomiti (1992-1997)
  • 4° Autogruppo di C.A. "Claudia"
  • 4° Reparto RRR di C.A.
  • 4º Battaglione logistico di manovra
  • 24º Battaglione logistico di manovra "Dolomiti"
  • 24º Reggimento logistico di manovra "Dolomiti"

No longer in use[edit]

Nappina
Description
Units
Italian unit name
Nappina gialla.png
Yellow Regimental commands and deposits of Alpini regiments until 1934
Nappina artiglieria 1 btr 1910.png
Red, black roundel, yellow number Mountain Artillery Batteries (1910-1934)

(the number corresponded with a batteriy's number)

Rank insignia[edit]

Officers carry the grade displaying their rank on the left side of the Cappello Alpino. Instead of the nappina the feather is held in place by a silver or golden colored metal wrap. Non-commissioned officers and officers up to the rank of captain carry a brown eagle feather and officers starting with the rank of major carry a white goose feather, instead of the standard black raven feather.

Rank insignia of generale di corpo d'armata of the Alpini.svg Lieutenant General: three golden stars on a silver ribbon
Rank insignia of generale di divisione of the Alpini.svg Major General: two golden stars on a silver ribbon
Rank insignia of generale di brigata of the Alpini.svg Brigadier General: one golden star on a silver ribbon
Rank insignia of colonnello comandante of the Alpini.svg Colonel Commandant: a twice as thick golden angled braid, below three standard sized golden angled braids and a red colored outline
Rank insignia of colonnello of the Alpini.svg Colonel: a twice as thick golden angled braid and below three standard sized golden angled braids
Rank insignia of tenente colonnello of the Alpini.svg Lieutenant Colonel: a twice as thick golden angled braid and below two standard sized golden angled braids
Rank insignia of maggiore of the Alpini.svg Major: a twice as thick golden angled braid and below one standard sized golden angled braid
Rank insignia of capitano of the Alpini.svg Captain: three golden angled braids
Rank insignia of tenente of the Alpini.svg Lieutenant: two golden angled braids
Rank insignia of sottotenente of the Alpini.svg Second Lieutenant: one golden angled braid
Rank insignia of primo maresciallo luogotenente of the Alpini.svg Subieutenants and Sublieutenants first class: one golden angled braid with a black central stripe, and a red colored outline and a golden star with a red colored outline
Rank insignia of primo maresciallo of the Alpini.svg First Marshal: one golden angled braid with a black central stripe and a red colored outline
Rank insignia of maresciallo of the Alpini.svg All other Non-commissioned officers: one golden angled braid with a black central stripe

References[edit]