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Isola (Municipality, Alpes-Maritimes, France)

Last modified: 2012-08-04 by ivan sache
Keywords: alpes-maritimes | isola | keys: 3 (gray) | chestnuts: 3 (gray) |
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[Flag of Isola]

Flag of Isola - Image by Ivan Sache, 30 April 2012

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Presentation of Isola

The municipality of Isola (in Nissart, Liousoulou; 689 inhabitants in 2008; 9,798 ha) is located in the National Park of Mercantour (South Alps), 70 km northwest of Nice, on the border with Italy.

Isola means "an island" in Italian, but the name of the village has nothing to do with an island. Isola was indeed mentioned for the first time in 1066/1067 as the village of Leudola, transferred by the Bishop of Nice to Count Rostaing. Subsequent mentions, such as Leusola (1200) and Lieusola (1333), were transformed by cartographers to L'Ieusola and L'Isola, eventually Isola. The name of the village most probably comes from a Ligurian word meaning "a grassy slope".
In the 11th-13th centuries, Isola and the other villages of the upper valley of the Tinée were ruled by the Thorame-Glandevès family. Following the incorporation of the County of Nice to Savoy in 1388, the villages got rid of their lords. In 1596, the village was looted by the Duke de Guise during the war that opposed the Duke of Savoy to King of France Henry IV.
When the County of Nice was incorporated to France in 1860. Count Cavour attempted to maintain Isola in the newly formed Italy, causing the wrath of the villagers who had massively voted for the incorporation to France. After a tight negotiation that involved Emperor Napoléon III himself, the village of Isola was incorporated to France, while the Chastillon valley remained Italian. In 1935, Mussolini started to fortify the heights dominating Chastillon; the village of Isola was heavily bombed by the German troops from there. The Treaty of Paris, signed on 10 February 1947, definitively fixed the border and reallocated Chastillon to France.

Source: Nice rendez-vous website

Isola is the birth place of the erudite Jean-François Fulconis (1530/1535-?; biography). Little is known about him but the treaty Opera nova d'arismethica intitulada Cisterna Fulcronica novellament compausada (A newly composed new arithmetics treaty called 'Cisterna Fulcronica'), published in Lyon in 1562. Written in Nissart language for the local people who did not understand Italian, the treaty mostly deals with accounting methodology. It is a main source on the economy, trade and language in the County of Nice in the 16th century.

The ski resort of Isola 2000 (indeed located between 1800 and 2650 m; website) was created in 1971 in the Chastillon valley by the French branch of the Bernard Sunley Investments Trust, in partnership with the municipality of Isola. The Grenoble Alpine Geography Institute ranked Isola 2000 in the French top ten of the resorts with the best snow coverage. The ski domain includes 42 pistes (120 km) dedicated to Alpine skiing and a snow park dedicated to snowboarding and related sports.
Isola 2000 is the training place of Tony Ramoin (b. 1988), bronze medalist in snowboard cross at the Vancouver Olympics (2010).

Ivan Sache, 30 April 2012

Flag of Isola

The flag of Isola, hoisted on the town hall (photo), is white with the municipal coat of arms.

The arms of Isola (municipal website) are "Azure a bend wavy argent in chief two keys or per saltire in base three chestnuts per bend". The shield is surmounted by a medieval helmet argent. Below the shield, a scroll argent is inscribed in letters sable "LIBERTAS - 1702 - FIDELITAS".
The white bend represents river Tinée. The keys are the attribute of St. Peter, the village's patron saint. The chestnuts were once the local staple food, still celebrated every year in November during the Chestnut Festival.
The motto (Liberty, Fidelity) and the year "1702" recall that the villagers purchased that year the feudal rights from the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia.

Ivan Sache, 30 April 2012