William and Fanny Nightingale famously named their baby daughter Florence after the city of her birth. Parents today are still choosing pretty names of pretty places, particularly if they have some particular significance for them.
In the recent past we’ve seen the popularity of Paris and London, Brooklyn and Trenton, Boston, Austin and Aspen, Savannah and Siena/Sienna. But here are 12 lovely choices from the continent of Europe that you probably have not considered.
One European place name with a real history in the name world, this lovely Alpine Swiss city name was once relatively popular in the U.S., reaching number 107 in 1919. It’s deserving of a comeback after a long-enough hiatus.
Though pronounced leel, this could be considered an exotic member of the Lily family. The northern French city, birthplace of Charles de Gaulle and Louis Pasteur, boasts a picturesque 17th century brick Old Town.
A lovely old Italian medieval town in the Veneto region, Verona is most famous for its Shakespearean associations as the setting of three of his plays, including Romeo and Juliet. It would make an interesting choice if you’re looking for a V name more distinctive than Vera.
This Greek island and city name fits right in with other trending preppy-boy surnames ending in ‘s.’ Though not yet on the Social Security list, it’s already number 648 on Nameberry, and was chosen by Sara Gilbert and Linda Perry for their son Rhodes Emilio. Another plus: the connection to the prestigious Rhodes Scholarships.
The evocative name of the capital of Austria brings to mind the music of Mozart and Beethoven, castles and cafes. Vienna cracked the U.S. popularity list in 2015, is number 531 on Nameberry, and is a top 300 name in the Netherlands.
Annecy is a breathtakingly beautiful town (and lake) in northeastern France, with winding cobbled streets and canals and a medieval chateau. It’s now the home of the International Animated Film Festival. And who couldn’t use another Ann name, especially one this delicate and lacey?
An Italian city on the Adriatic famed for its magnificent mosaics, Ravenna has been celebrated in poetry as part of its rich artistic, historic and literary heritage. Despite being associated with the evil queen in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” we think it would make a lovely choice.
Cádiz is an ancient port city in the Andalusia region of Spain, one of the oldest cities in Europe, the birthplace of composer Manuel de Falla and, surprisingly, American Civil War Union General George Meade. It would make a surprising, and memorable, name for a boy, with its z-ending.
Situated in the Greek Peloponnesus, modern Corinth in 1858 replaced the ancient city that was destroyed by an earthquake. A soft and gentle name that could join the extended family of Cora, Coralie, Cordelia, Cornelia, Cormac and — another place name — Corsica. Corinth is the capital of Corinthia, yet another possibility.
Saint-Malo is a port city in Brittany featuring a Gothic cathedral and a granite-walled old town, and is noted for a privateering/pirate past. The Breton saint name Malo ― heard in the Legend of Zelda video games ― has taken off in France, where it’s currently number 64. Another name possibility is the Swedish city Malmö.
Like Otto and Orlando, this name of the capital of Norway has the appealing bookending letter o’s. It also forms a path to cute-cool nickname Ossie/Ozzie.
We’ve become familiar with the golden glow of the Greek Xanthe, but the similarly pronounced Xanthi — a city in northern Greece — would give it a unique place-name spin.