Cappello degli Alpini

Alpini Cap

The Cappello per Alpini (Alpini Cap) is the traditional headgear of the Alpini. The first Alpini Cap is introduced in 1873 and has its origin in the theater. The Modello 1873 follows the lines of the "Cap of Calabria" as worn during Verdi's opera Ernari played at Venice in the Teatro La Fenice on the 9th of March 1844.
This model is succeeded by the Modello 1910. The Model 1910 is made out of green felt, in which the front cover turns into an upright collar at the rear. With some minor modifications, this model is still worn.

During the First and Second World War the Alpini preferred the Alpini Cap over the helmet, as a sense of pride.

The Alpini Cap worn by soldiers and NCO’s has a grey-green leather band around the dome and is equipped with a black fabric emblem at the front. On each side there are two split pins with holes, which provide the required ventilation.
On the left, on the grey-green leather band, there is an oval wool feather holder attached: the nappina. Originally, all nappina’s were red, but since 1882, the color of the nappina is linked to a particular specialization:
Amaranth with a black core with in white the numbers (later on completely in amaranth): Genio Alpino (Alpini Engineers)
Black: Servizio Chimico Alpino (Alpini Chemical Troops)
Green with a black core with in yellow the letters or numbers (since 1935, before that date the nappina was red): Artigliera Alpina (Alpini Artillery)
Red with a black core with in yellow the letters or numbers: Artigliera aggregati alle divisioni di Fanteria (Infantry Division Artillery)

Furthermore within a line Alpini unit, each Battalion has its own nappina color:
White: 1st Battalion
Red: 2nd Battalion
Green: 3rd Battalion
Blue: 4th Battalion

The black feather which is between 20 and 30 cm long as worn by soldiers and NCOs comes from a crow.
Alpini who finished successfully mountain climbing training have their feather cut on a different way.

The Alpini Cap of officers has a more grey-green color and is made from a better quality felt. The edge of the cap and the band around the dome are trimmed with grey silk and furthermore a grey cord goes around the dome. Officers have a gold emblem at the front, with the exception of generals who have their own emblem (see the article on the “Berretto Rigido degli Ufficiali del Regio Esercito” (Visor Cap for Officers of the Royal Army).
A vertically striped brass nappina decorated with the Cross of Savoye is worn at the left, on the grey silk band, by officers with the exception of generals who have a silver example. Officers wear a feather of 20 to 30 cm long coming from an eagle, generals have a feather of a goose.
Officers have their rank depicted on the left-hand side by means of an inverted V.
General grades are represented by a rectangular emblem, trimmed with silver with a certain number of stars.

The Alpini Cap is also worn by the Guardia alla Frontiera (Border Guard), Guardia di Finanza (Finanze Guard) and various parts of the Milizia Volontaria Sicurezza Nazionale (National Security Volunteer Militia) and the Opera Nazionale Balilla. Their versions will be discussed elsewhere.

Sources:
Mussolini’s Soldiers; R. Trye; 1995
Uniformi e distintivi dell’Esercito Italiano 1933-1945 ; P. Marzetti; 1981

Cappello degli Alpini
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