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Italian ski resort Cervinia thinks twice about name change

Outcry after Italian ski resort dropped Cervinia.

The famed ski resort of Cervinia in northern Italy on Thursday reverted to its pre-Fascist era name of Le Breuil before doing an about-turn following political pressure.

The small Alpine town at the foot of the Matterhorn, part of the autonomous Valle d'Aosta region, sits on Italy's northwestern border with Switzerland.

Known for centuries as Le Breuil, the Alpine resort was renamed Cervinia in 1934 as part of Mussolini's campaign to Italianise French and German place names along the north Italian border.

Since then the town in the comune of Valtournenche has been known as Breuil-Cervinia, or simply "Cervinia" to Italians and skiing enthusiasts around the world.

On Thursday the town council ditched Cervinia and reverted to Le Breuil, a name derived from the Valdôtain dialect of Franco-Provençal which is spoken in the Valle d'Aosta region.

The controversial move met opposition from the tourism sector which feared economic damage, as well as among the town's 700 residents who feared bureaucratic chaos resulting from the need to update documents from identity cards to land registry records.

More than 2,000 people signed an online petition, launched by a "devoted tourist", titled "Keeping the name Breuil-Cervinia unchanged".

Altering the 'Breuil-Cervinia' brand "could have negative repercussions on the local economy" - the petition warned - "A name change could create confusion among regular tourists and potential new visitors, potentially leading to a decrease in visits."

The name-changing process, driven by the town's former mayor Jean-Antoine Maquignaz, began in 2011.

"We need to take into account the culture of the region and the names must be preserved, along with their long history" - Maquignaz told Corriere della Sera - "Cervinia will not disappear in the collective memory. It is one of the most famous ski resorts in the Alps."

The name-change sparked an outcry from the rightwing Fratelli d'Italia (FdI) party of premier Giorgia Meloni.

Fabio Rampelli, vice-president of the chamber of deputies, described the name-change as "unconstitutional" while Trentino regional councillor Alessandro Urzì equated the "ideological" move with the Taliban.

In a video posted on social media on Thursday, Italy's tourism minister and senior FdI figure Daniela Santanchè got straight to the point by asking the town council: "Are you crazy?"

Calling on local authorities to "rethink" the decision, Santanchè said: "Do you know how long it takes to build una destination, una brand reputation?"

Within hours of Santanchè's video, Valtournenche mayor Elisa Cicco told news agency ANSA that following a meeting with Valle d'Aosta governor Renzo Testolin, "procedures have been started to restore the name of Breuil-Cervinia", adding: "We are working to resolve the problem."

Welcoming the about-turn, Santanchè posted on Facebook: "Happy that the municipality and region have backtracked thanks also to our intervention. Cervinia is the name that represents Italy in the world and of which we are proud!"

Photo credit: elitravo / Shutterstock.com

General Info

Address 11028 Breuil-Cervinia, Aosta Valley, Italy

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Italian ski resort Cervinia thinks twice about name change

11028 Breuil-Cervinia, Aosta Valley, Italy

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