Cortina d'Ampezzo

Cortina d'Ampezzo Centre
Photo by Leo-setä (flickr)

Cortina d’Ampezzo, an Italian city surrounded by the Dolomite mountains, hosted the 1956 Winter Olympic Games. Because of its location, Cortina d’Ampezzo has been part of both Austria and Italy, but since the end of the first world war it has been part of Italy.

So, how did Cortina d’Ampezzo come to be called Cortina d’Ampezzo? That is difficult information to find if you don’t speak or read Italian – there’s a whole section on the origin of the name on Italian Wikipedia. I, however, don’t speak or read Italian, so I had to look elsewhere.

The name Cortina d’Ampezzo has two parts, and, at least according to Placenames of the World, the first part, Cortina, means “little court,” cortina being the diminutive of corte, the word for “court.” Some places seem to suggest that there may be a small fence or curtain involved, but that may simply be a result in translation errors. And for the second part of the name, Ampezzo, Cortina d’Ampezzo is in the Ampezzo valley, (hence the d’ part of the name, in English we would say “Cortina of Ampezzo”), and Ampezzo comes from the Italian in pezzo meaning “piece of land.”


Photo of the river in Grenoble, France.
Photo by Lady_Elixir (flickr)

Host of the 1968 Winter Olympic Games, Grenoble, France, is situated at the foot of the alps and the junction of the Drac and Isère rivers.

To find the origins of the name Grenoble, we have to cast our gaze back through history. Grenoble is derived from the name Gratianopolis, latin for City of Gratian. The name Gratianopolis was bestowed upon Grenoble in the year 381 after the Roman Emperor Gratian visited the city and was pleased by the welcome he received from the people, (Gratianopolis was originally founded as Cularo in 43 BC).

So, if Grenoble comes from the name Gratianopolis, then we need to find out where the name Gratian comes from. Gratian, (or Gratianus in Latin), simply means Grace, so, we could say that Grenoble is the City of Grace.