Fourteen Italian towns whose names will make Anglophones do a double take

From Rome and Bologna to Florence and Verona, there are plenty of beautiful places to live in Italy. But some of them provide lots of fun for those of us with a juvenile sense of humour.

Fourteen Italian towns whose names will make Anglophones do a double take


Arsoli, Lazio Photo: Altoteme

English speakers might assume that Arsoli is in the arse end of nowhere. But it is, in fact, a quaint hillside town in Lazio. At least that’s what it looks like in the photo above. We haven't been arsed to venture there yet.

Apparently the land was marshy and untouched for centuries, until a noble family bought it in the sixteenth century, and Arsoli was spruced up, with a new aqueduct to provide water and restoration work on the fortress. Now, more than 1,000 people are proud residents of Arsoli.


Living here might send your blood pressure sky-rocketing.

Are the 34,000 inhabitants of this town all constantly in a bad mood? You'd be treading on eggshells in this corner of Salerno, always afraid of accidentally provoking your neighbours.


Bra's brazen bra thief plagues town's balconies
Photo: Taz/Flickr

It's not that the name of this Piedmont town conjures up off-putting images as such, but would you really want to live there and put up with schoolboy sniggers every time you gave your address? Besides, you might fall victim to the brazen bra thief of Bra who was put under house arrest in 2014 for repeatedly swiping women's underwear from washing lines…


The sleepy town of Bore is home to around 750 people, and located 57km from Parma. It was initially set up for weary travellers crossing the Apennines and in need of a place to rest their heads.

So is it really as dull as it sounds? We hesitate to say yes, but the 'Tourist itineraries and history' page of the town's official website appears to be completely blank.


Photo: Peter Forster/Flickr

Would you really go there unless you had to? This town of 1,000 inhabitants in the Marche region might well be very nice, but we don't really like the sound of it. And would they ever let you leave?


Would your friends be green with envy to receive a postcard from here?

We're not at all jealous of those who live here – all 2,000 of them. Lying in the mountains outside Turin, it's got plenty of farmland, orchards, churches and even a castle, and it's name supposedly comes from a Carthaginian general who, when he arrived in Envie and saw the vast plain ahead of him, said: 'Ecce Viae!' (Behold, the way).


The town centre of None. Photo: K.Weise/Wikimedia Commons

On the outskirts of Turin lies this bleak-sounding town, which 8,000 people call home. But is there anything to do there?

Purgatorio (Purgatory)

Theologians have argued for centuries about whether Purgatory exists and what it might be like – fancy a chance to find out for yourself?

Possibly the weirdest thing about Purgatorio is that it's the name of not just one, but two Italian towns: one in Sicily, the other in Campania. The Campanian Purgatorio takes its name from the local church, said to be the site of a miracle: souls of purgatory were heard sounding its bells and beating on the door from inside. 

Isola Formica (Ant Island)

The islet of Formica. Photo: Alessio Milano

Isola Formica, the smallest of the Egadi group of islands off Sicily, has been inhabited over the centuries by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Normans.

But could they tolerate those pesky insects? It seems not – all that remains on the now privately-owned island today is a lighthouse, a church and a tuna fishery. 


Photo: Michiel1972

Its translation into English might make you balk, but it could be this industrial Umbrian town’s way of keeping people out. Bastardo has “few redeeming features”, according to Wikitravel, and “is most certainly the least attractive town in Umbria”.

Pozzo dell’Inferno (Well of Hell)

This is the road to hell. Screenshot: Google Maps

Where residents either burn, or have a hell of a time.

For those who find Pray unappealing, then pass through Purgatorio and hang out with the sinners in Pozzo dell’Inferno, hell's well. The Lazio hamlet is home to 347 people – care to join them?


The rugged landscapes of Buggerru. Photo: Young Skywalker/Flickr

To an English speaker, this town on Sardinia sounds like a posh person swearing – but its name gives an insight into its history. The town of around 1,000 can be found on the western coast of the island and is best known for its rugged scenery and mining heritage.

When first built, the town was known as 'Little Paris' because it was home to plenty of French businessmen who set up cultural establishments including a theatre and cinema, but it took its current name from a Mr Eccidio Buggeru, one of the miners who worked in tough conditions and led his colleagues on Italy's first ever general strike. 

Orgia (Orgy)

A view over the peaceful hamlet of Orgia. Photo: LigaDue/Wikimedia Commons

Inviting someone to this hilltop town could lead to a few misunderstandings – and yes, the Italian meaning is the same as the English. In the midst of a forest in Siena, there's plenty of privacy for a gathering in Orgia. 

Casa del Diavolo (the devil’s house)

Photo: Rowena

The Umbrian town where the devil actually lives. Enter at your own risk.

Have you been to one of these towns, or any others with an amusing name? We'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter or via email to tell us more.