The cradle: England
La coppola is not a Sicilian invention. It is not even an Italian invention.
History tells us that the hat dates back to Tudor times, in England. When people over six were obliged to wear a wool hat on Sundays. The hat had to be produced in England, with English wool. A mere protective ruling so to ensure the internal market. Nobility was exempted from wearing them.
Only in the nineteenth century, long after the mandatory ruling, the aristocracy started wearing, too.
Once it reached the USA, the coppola or flat heat gained in popularity. Newsboy’s caps first, golf caps later. And soon most men had one.
Americans, as they often do, stripped the item from class–association. Rich and poor, law-abiding citizens and ruthless gangsters wore them.
Today they are largely replaced by baseball hats.
It is curious how the flat cap came back to its origins, to the UK. Cleansed of class
The flat hat became coppola when it arrived in Sicily. Rich English family embarked in the nineteenth centuries. These businessmen had great successes in various fields. The Marsala wine production just to name one.
With them came the flat hats. The name given came from its form: a cupola. The use spread like a wildfire. Soon becoming icon of Sicily itself.
The Sicilian misunderstaning
The coppola is indeed widespread in Sicily. It protects against the sun in summer and cold in winter.
It is though in no possible way linked to organized crime. Featuring gangsters wearing flats, as in the Godfather, enhanced this vision.
Just as in the rest of the world, it is not class related. It just sits fine.
The modern coppola
The coppola ‘s popularity is vast. Not just in Sicily. Many celebrities wear them again, many tourist purchase one when visiting Sicily.
Some shops continue to produce the classics. If you happen in Palermo, take a stroll in Via Garibaldi.
Others have taken the liberty to change wool for linen or cotton. And make them in exciting colours and motives.