There are many towns and cities in the United States named after places in foreign countries. Check out 5 American cities named with Italian flair!
Florence, Italy was first founded as a Roman fort under Julius Caesar. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it came to power again as a Republic led by the powerful Medici family. By the 18th and 19th century, the great works of art in the city were attracting wealthy Europeans on their grand tour of the continent.
Most Americans will know Mantua as a setting for William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but the Lombard city has also been designated the Italian Capital of Culture. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has made significant contributions to opera.
In Ohio, Mantua Township was first settled in 1798 as Tappanville. The Tappan family owned much of the land. However, after the Tappan family returned from their "Grand Tour'' of Europe, they began renaming the property. The northern section of their property they named Mantua, first calling it Mantua Station because of access to the railroad line. The southern section of their holdings became Revanna, also after the Italian city. Eventually, Mantua Township was organized ostensibly to commemorate Napoleon's Siege. In 1993, Mantua Village was incorporated from portions of the township, but the village is pronounced "MAN-a-way".
In Alabama, Mantua is likely named in honor of the Italian city, but without explanation as to why. There is also a Mantua, New Jersey, but it's unclear whether this community is named for the Italian city, or a similarly phonetic name for a sub-tribe of the Lenape Native Americans who lived in the region.
Sorrento overlooks the bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius, and these beautiful views and café-lined streets have made it a favorite destination for tourists. The city is known for citrus fruits like lemons and the alcoholic drink Limoncello.
In Louisiana, Sorrento was first founded first as Conway. A century later, along came William Edenborn, a German immigrant and industrialist who owned the Louisiana and Arkansas Railroad. The railroad was instrumental in renaming the community to Sorrento. When Edenborn married his wife Sarah, he took her on a honeymoon to Sorrento, Italy, and renamed Conway in honor of their marriage. Some sources suggest his wife was originally from Sorrento, but there seems scant evidence to back up this claim.
This city in Tuscany has long been associated with marble quarries and lends its name to high quality Carrara marble used since ancient Rome. Marble for both the Pantheon and Trajan's Column were quarried from Carrara, and today it continues to be a luxury product.
The American west was rich with gold, silver, and in Nevada, marble. Carrara, Nevada in Nye County has a mining district rich with marble and borrowed the name for the obvious connection to Italy.
Founded almost 3,000 years ago by the Phoenicians, Palermo is a major city, port, and capital of Sicily. The hot, dry climate was a center for regional economic activity, including agriculture and industry.
That's quite different from Palermo, North Dakota, a landlocked city in a cool climate with about a 100 or so residents. Founded in 1902 as the Great Northern Railroad passed through the area, the town consisted mainly of Norwegian settlers. However, they named the town Palermo as homage to the many Italian and Sicilian workers responsible for building the railroad.
Ian MacAllen is America Domani's Senior Correspondent and the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American. He is a writer, editor, and graphic designer living in Brooklyn. Connect with him at IanMacAllen.com or on Twitter @IanMacAllen.