Alpine South Tyrol: The Little Corner of Italy That Wants to Be German (If Its Governor Has Any Say in It)

By Day, Michael | The Independent (London, England), August 27, 2013 | Go to article overview
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Alpine South Tyrol: The Little Corner of Italy That Wants to Be German (If Its Governor Has Any Say in It)


Day, Michael, The Independent (London, England)


As the battle between Rome and Berlin continues over European austerity, in Italy's northernmost province a linguistic conflict, provoking almost as much ire, is escalating between German and Italian-speaking locals.

In the Alpine South Tyrol, known in Italy as Alto Adige, the Teutonic governor Luis Durnwalder is taking an axe to the Italian names of 135 of the area's leading beauty spots.

Signs, maps and tourist information will henceforth list celebrated peaks and vantage points such as the Monte Sant'Anna, the Forcella del Santo and the Forcella di Vallunga in German only.

Local Italian-speaking politicians from the left and right have criticised the widespread replacement of Italian titles with German ones.

Daniela Rossi, the deputy secretary of the local branch of the centre-left Democratic Party, said: "We look like a laughing stock. This business was never discussed with us."

Enrico Lillo of the centre-right People of Freedom party said: "It's the usual case of the SVP [the German speaking South Tyrolean People's Party] trampling over the Italian-speakers."

But La Repubblica reported that hardliners in Mr Durnwalder's regionalist SVP think the cull of Italian place names hasn't gone far enough, and dozens more have been put up for Germanification.

So far this hasn't happened, possibly because Mr Durnwalder knows it might provoke the government in Rome to tear up the deal on the agreed 135 name changes.

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