Why Italy's government is angry about a ski resort changing its name

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Why Italy's government is angry about a ski resort changing its name
The ski resort known as Breuil-Cervinia, or just Cervinia, has moved to switch its name to Le Breuil as of November 30th, 2023. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

The world-famous Italian ski resort of Cervinia reverted to its pre-Fascist name of Le Breuil on Thursday, sparking an outcry from members of the nationalist government.


From Thursday, November 30th, the village in Val d'Aosta known worldwide as Cervinia will instead be called Le Breuil.

"Cervinia will not disappear in the collective memory. It is one of the most famous ski resorts in the Alps," Jean-Antoine Maquignaz, a former mayor who began the process for the recognition of historical names in the region, told the Turin edition of Corriere della Sera.

But, he said, "the culture of the area must be taken into account. And the names must be preserved, as well as their long history."

Le Breuil was changed to Cervinia by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime in 1934 under a drive to remove all foreign-sounding place names.

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Many comuni (municipalities) in the Alpine region of Val d'Aosta, which borders France and Switzerland, had their French names replaced with Italian ones.

The process of changing the town's name back began in 2011, and Valle d'Aosta's regional president, Renzo Testolin, signed a decree last September which formalised the switch.

But Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's far-right Brothers of Italy (FdI) party on Thursday issued an angry statement which said the name change was "evidently the result of ideology, out of time and place," news agency Ansa reported.

The party said ministers would meet with regional authorities to "resolve the problem" in the coming days.


FdI Deputy House Whip Fabio Rampelli said the government must get the name changed back, describing the move as "anti-Italian" and claiming it went against the Constitution.

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Tourism minister Daniela Santanchè urged the local council to "think again" saying that the winter tourism industry would be "heavily penalised by dropping a brand name that is known across the world".

But the 700 or so local residents may have more immediate concerns: the name change is expected to result in a mountain of bureaucracy, as inhabitants will now need to update their identity cards, birth certificates, and land registry data, Corriere reported.


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