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Am I Crazy? What Happened to A L T O ?

When we first started traveling to Italy in the mid-90s, I distinctly remember stop signs that said "ALTO". What happened to them? And, while we're asking questions...why was a word that means "high" used on Italian traffic stop signs? And, why is it in English all over the country now?


I wasn't really taking the picture of the stop sign, it was just in the frame. Here's what I was really interested in.


Comments (4)

I always wondered why the English word "STOP" is used so often on stop signs in Italy. Are they also used in other countries where the language is not English? And what is up with all of the blue stop signs in Italy? I don't think I have ever seen an ALTO sign.

I thought "STOP" was universal, I remember seeing in German and Swedish cities, but I may be mistaken.

Donna in SF:

I remember when stop signs in France said "arrêt", in Spain they said "alto", and in Italy they also said "alto". I was disappointed when I noticed (can't remember how long ago) that they had all switched to English!

Deborah responds: Thanks, Donna, for confirming my memory. I've had several people tell me they've never seen "ALTO" in Italy. I was beginning to doubt myself.

I think I remember seeing Alto although it could have been in a Spanish country. I was also surprised last time I visited France not to see Arret which I though I remembered from before. I wonder if the EU changed to all be English?

It was fun seeing a very different sign in Malaysia. Same shape and color but the word for stop in Malay is Berhenti.

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