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What's in a Name?

DW staff (nda)April 10, 2008

The cities of Munich and Monaco don't share too many similarities. And yet, there is one thing both cities share which connects them: their name in Italian.

A participant of the traditional costume procession of the beer festival Oktoberfest walks in the city of Munich
"Excusez-moi, monsieur, où est la gare?"Image: AP

The Bavarian capital, with its distinctive southern German steeples and ornately carved wooden eaves, bears little resemblance to Monaco's yacht-filled harbor and super-rich mansions.

But a shared name connects these two disparate cities and, in a confused mind, that can spell trouble.

While the name of the tiny principality on the French Riviera remains the same in Italian, Munich is known as Monaco di Baviera south of the Alps. For those who have visited either city, this usually doesn't prove to be much of a problem. Complete strangers unaware that these are two separate locations are a different matter.

Take the two ladies from the Dominican Republic who recently made arrangements to pick up their 14-year-old niece in Monaco.

Bavaria: Playground of the rich and famous?

The Monaco principality
The real Monaco: Too hot for LederhosenImage: AP

The two women had driven across the Alps from Trento in northern Italy to collect the girl from the Paris-Munich train, but started to panic and went to the police when the girl failed to appear.

Speaking only Italian and Spanish, it took German police nearly two hours to establish that the girl was not in Monaco di Baviera but in the other Monaco on the Mediterranean coast, some 840 kilometers (523 miles) away.

"The problem was they thought Munich was Monaco," said a spokesman for Munich police on Wednesday.

After being enlightened, the women got back in their car and set off on the journey to Monaco where the young girl was waiting, the spokesman said.