French or Italian?

Published in: News 30/01/2022


Napoleon on horseback

From Yves Montand to Emanuel Ungaro, from Jean-Paul Belmondo to Émile Zola, the people who made France great reveal Italian origins. Even Napoleon Bonaparte. Find out who they are and click and listen to their Italian names pronounced in French.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte, the "Emperor of the French," was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, in August 1769: less than one year after the Treaty of Versailles (the 15th of June in 1768), stated that the Republic of Genoa had to cede Corsica to France. For just a few months, Napoleon Bonaparte is not Italian.
Click Napoleon Bonaparte and listen to the French pronunciation of his name. 

Joan Alesi

Jean Alesi is the French Formula 1 racing driver who won many Grand Prix. He was born Giovanni Alesi, and he is the son of Sicilian parents who emigrated to France. His father was a mechanic and ran an automotive bodywork repair garage: that's where Alesi started to love cars.
Click Jean Alesi and listen to the correct pronunciation of his name.

Loris Azzaro

Loris Azzaro, the big name of the French fashion industry, was born in Tunisia under the French protectorate, to Sicilian parents. Before moving to Paris in 1962 and becoming a fashion designer, he was a teacher of French and Italian.
Click Loris Azzaro and listen to the audio pronunciation of his name.

Jean-Paul Belmondo

Jean-Paul Belmondo, one of the most celebrated actors in France, is the son of Paul Belmondo, a sculptor born in French Algeria to a Sicilian father and a mother from Piemonte, in Northern Italy. In Italian, Belmondo is pronounced bel-MON-doh, stressing the second syllable; in French, the stress goes to the last syllable: bel-mon-DOH.
Click Jean-Paul Belmondo and listen to the French pronunciation of his name.

Georges Brassens

Georges Brassens, the most important singer-songwriter in France, grew up in a modest family with a French father, Jean-Louis Brassens, a construction worker, and an Italian mother, Elvira Dagrosa, born in the region of Basilicata.
Click Georges Brassens and listen to the French pronunciation of his name. 

Pierre Cardin

Pierre Cardin was born in 1922 in Sant'Andrea di Barbarana in the province of Treviso, and his real name was Pietro Cardin, pronounced in Italian: car-deen.
Click Pierre Cardin and listen to the audio French pronunciation of his name.

Yves Montand

Yves Montand, the famous French actor and singer, was born as Ivo Livi, in Monsummano Terme, in the province of Pistoia (Tuscany). His family left Italy in 1923 to escape the Fascist regime and settle in France, where he became the celebrity we all know.
Click Yves Montand and listen to the correct pronunciation of his name. 

Daniel Pennac

Daniel Pennac, the creator of Monsieur Malaussène, was born in Morocco to a family of Italian descent: his real name is Daniel Pennacchioni, an Italian last name.
Click Daniel Pennac and listen to the audio pronunciation of his name.

Michel Piccoli

Michel Piccoli, the award-winning French actor, has a last name that immediately reveals its Italian origin. If he were one hundred percent French, he would be Mr. Michel Petits… and in English, he would be Michael Small. We don’t know, though, how back in time his Italian descent goes.
Listen to the correct pronunciation of Michel Piccoli.

Michel Platini

Michel Platini, the former French football player, was born in the Lorraine region, but his mother, Anna Piccinelli, was originally from Belluno, in the region of Veneto, and his paternal grandparents were from the province of Novara, in Piemonte.
Click Michel Platini and listen to the audio pronunciation of his name.

Emanuel Ungaro

Emanuel Ungaro, the famous French fashion designer, inherited both his last name and talent from his father, a tailor from Apulia, in Southern Italy.
Click Emanuel Ungaro and listen to the French pronunciation of his name.

Émile Zola

Émile Zola, one of the greatest French writers, was born in Paris in 1840, but his father, Francesco Antonio Giuseppe Maria Zolla, was an Italian engineer born in Venice in 1795.
Click Émile Zola and listen to the French pronunciation of his name.

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