Host of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games, Lillehammer, Norway, has a much easier name to track down than Nagano, Japan. According to Wikipedia Lillehammer was named after the old Hamar farm that was already there when the town was established on January 1, 1838. There was a slight problem, though, there was another town called Hamar close by, so the town became known as Lilþlæ Hamar or Litlihamarr, which means “little hamar,” and eventually that was shortened and modernized to Lillehammer.
While the Winter Olympics are on in Vancouver, we’ll be exploring the origins of the names of former host cities of the winter olympic games, working more or less in reverse chronological order. Today we’re looking at Turin, Italy.
Turin, (Torino in Italian), was originally founded as Taurasia byt the Taurini Gauls around 300 BC. It was destroyed by Hannibal around 218 BC but didn’t get completely wiped off of the map. Rome rebuilt Taurasia as Augusta Taurinorum in 28 BC. After the collapse of the Roman Empire Turin was occupied by various groups, then finally became part of the Duchy of Savoy at the end of the thirteenth century, when its existence became relatively peaceful.
You might be thinking that “that’s all very nice, but where did the name come from?” I was thinking that after reading a bunch of history articles. There isn’t a lot of information out there about the Taurini Gauls who founded Turin, but it appears that the is either derived from the Taurini word “thor” which means “to mount” or is named after a bull because the river Po, which Turin lies on the bank of, looked like a bull with golden horns to the first inhabitants of the area. Apparently the modern Italian name of the city, “Torino” translates roughly to “little bull,” and the symbol of the city is a bull, which lends some weight to the bull story.