From Academic Kids

The Carabinieri is the shortened (and common) name for the Arma dei Carabinieri, an Italian military corps of the gendarmerie type with police functions, which also serves as the Italian military police. Historically, a Carabiniere was a cavalry soldier armed with a carbine. Their motto is Nei Secoli Fedeli (Faithful for the Centuries).



The corps was created by King Victor Emanuel I of Sardinia, with the aim of providing Piedmont with a police corps similar to the French Gendarmerie. Previously, police duties were managed by the Dragoni di Sardegna corps, created in 1726 and composed of volunteers.

After French soldiers had occupied Turin at the end of the 18th century and later abandoned it to the Savoy family, the corps of Carabinieri Reali was instituted under the Regie Patenti (Royal Patent) of July 13, 1814.

Both a military and a police corps, the Carabinieri have fought in every conflict in which Italy has been involved, suffering heavy losses and being awarded many decorations for gallantry.

The Carabinieri are particularly proud of the memory of Brigadier Salvo D'Acquisto, who was executed by the Germans in Palidoro, near Rome, in World War II, having exchanged his life for the lives of innocent citizens due to be executed in retaliation for the murder of a German soldier. Brigadier D'Acquisto falsely claimed responsibility and was shot for the offense.

The history of the Carabinieri is replete with other such actions and the corps is nicknamed La Benemerita (the Meritorious).

The Carabinieri recently became an armed force (alongside the Army, Navy and Air Force), thus ending their long standing as the first corps (Arma) of the Army (Esercito). It is likely that Carabinieri will continue to be referred to as the Arma by antonomasia, unrivalled in popular affection and national pride.

In recent years Carabinieri units have been dispatched all over the world in peacekeeping missions, including in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2004 twelve Carabinieri were killed in a suicide bomb attack on their base in Nasiriyah, near Basra, in southern Iraq, the largest Italian military loss of life in a single action since the Second World War.


Chain of command

The corps is headed by the Comando, consisting of the Comandante Generale (a General), the Vice-Comandante Generale (a Lieutenant General) and the Headquarters Staff.

Territorial organization

The Carabinieri are organised on a territorial basis. There are five Zones (commanded by Lieutenant Generals), fourteen Regions (commanded by Major Generals) and 104 Provinces (commanded by Brigadier Generals or Colonels). At a local level, in medium city there are Companies, commanded by a Captain, an in small towns there are Stations, commanded by a Marshall (italian for Warrant Officer).

Special organizations

Specialized units also exist, such as the Nucleo Tutela Patrimonio Artistico (specializing in the protection of artwork and in the recovery of stolen paintings) and the Mobile Command, consisting of twelve Mobile Regiments.

The Carabinieri's elite counter terrorism unit is the Gruppo Intervento Speciale (GIS), which has the same training as the NOCS of the Polizia di Stato, but has wider duties as the Carabinieri are also responsible for military policing (so only the GIS is involved when military installations are under threat) and may be sent abroad on peacekeeping or enforcement duties.

The Corazzieri (Cuirassiers) are an elite corps and are the honor guard of the President. They are distinguished by their uniforms and height (the minimum height for admission is 190cm, or 6 feet 3 inches).

The Carabinieri in Italian culture

Whereas the Carabinieri are among the institutions most trusted by the Italian public, they are at the same time stereotyped as incredibly stupid and narrow-minded in popular culture. They are arguably the social group that is most often the butt of jokes in Italy.

The Carabinieri are traditionally the exemplars of serious behaviour in Italian culture and are attributed a strict formal respect; this, however, contrasts with the impressive abundance of jokes about them (in the role that blondes play in American jokes). The first time they appeared in a fictional context was in Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio, not without a certain scandal.

Many films and tv series have featured the Carabinieri, even acting as protagonists. Racconti del Maresciallo, La Tenda Nera, Il Maresciallo Rocca and Carabinieri are some of the titles that have been produced, mainly by the RAI fiction division, in the last few years.

In January 2005, the private television network Canale 5 started to broadcast a Carabinieri-related drama series called R.I.S. based on the Ra.C.I.S. (Raggruppamento Carabinieri Indagini Scientifiche; Carabinieri Scientific Investigation Group) and modelled on the American CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Some typical jokes about Carabinieri

  • How many Carabinieri do you need to change a light bulb? Five, one holding the bulb and four turning the table.
  • Why do Carabinieri smile when there is a lightning storm? Because they think someone's taking pictures at them.
  • Four Carabinieri in their car go seek a prostitute; "50 front, 100 back" she states. "Hey, why do we have to pay more?" says a Carabiniere sitting in the back seat.
  • Two Carabinieri stop a motorist for a routine control. The first one activates the turn signals, and asks his colleague "Are the signals working?", and the other: "Now they do, now they don't, now they do, now they don't, now they do, now they don't, ..."
  • How many jokes are there about Carabinieri? Only this one, the others are true stories.

See also

External links

fr:Carabinier it:Arma dei Carabinieri ja:カラビニエリ no:Arma dei Carabinieri


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