Where the streets have names

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The subject of street names can be interesting to understand a country’s history. The choice of a street name testifies to a country’s interest towards a topic: as, for instance, naming the high street after a renowned patriot, a war hero or a scientist. Over the years various countries renamed streets or squares to make a statement in favour or against a particular historical period. This paper seeks to study the toponymy of Italian streets. By analysing the toponymy databasepublished by Istat, it aims to: rank street names from most to least frequent (by municipality); classify them according to broad categories (e.g. geographical names, politicians, scientists, saints, etc.); georeference them by municipality. This work allows the author to consider the ranking of streets and the reasons behind it. First, the ranking shows the relative importance of a street name. It highlights Italy’s young history: an emphasis on the capital cities, on the Risorgimento, on the Italian language. Secondly, the classification shows the recurrence of some themes: the most important categories are cities, politicians, WWI references, and literati. Lastly, showing the location of street names on a map also allows to make a geographical analysis of Italian toponymy: some names could be more frequent in specific regions than in others due to the influence of local traditions, to political reasons, etc.
street names, location, categories, history