The main entrance to the Palazzo della Consulta is surmounted by the splendid coat of arms of the House of Savoy, which ruled the Kingdom of Italy from its inception in 1861 until its demise in 1946, when the country became a republic.
The palazzo was briefly (1871-74) the home of Prince Umberto (r. 1878-1900) and his wife Margherita, while his father King Vittorio Emanuele II (r. 1861-78) lived opposite in the Palazzo del Quirinale.
The coat of arms, which is made up of a cross surmounted by a crown, incorporates a tiny image of the Annunciation, a reference to the Ordine Supremo della Santissima Annunziata, an order of Knighthood originating in Savoy. The distinctive knots, which encircle the image, are known, unsurprisingly, as Savoy knots. A Savoy knot is often accompanied by the words, Stringe ma non costringe' (It tightens, but does not constrain).
To either side of the image of the Annunciation is the word FERT, an acronym of the motto of the House of Savoy. However, there seems to be a degree of controversy as to what the four letters actually stand for. Fortitudo Eius Rhodum Tenuit (By his strength he held Rhodes), Foedere et Religione Tenemur (We are bound by treaty and by religion), and Fides Est Regni Tutela (Faith is the protector of the Kingdom) are just some of the suggestions.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
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