Isabella, oh beautiful Isabella. When my parents named me your French/German equivalent in 1979, Isabella was perceived as too flowery, too over-the-top. Now, you are just shy of on top at #2 nationwide. You are lovely. ”Is a bella” sounds like “is a beauty.” You are worthy of queens and movie stars. But you must step aside now, and let others have their chance to shine.
Araminta – This four syllable English gem has all the makings of a star. Perhaps it’s that “mint” sound people can’t get past?
Casilda – An old Spanish saint with a lovely name and the ready-to-wear nickname Cassie.
Cosima – This Italian patron of the arts made its way onto three famous newborns in as many months. Sofia Coppola, Claudia Schiffer, and the royal Windsors all have Cosimas.
Delphine – A hot ticket in 1970s France, Delphine missed the boat ride. She’s as objectively pretty as any other.
Eleanora – Add an A and this stately classic sings.
Fiorella – Here’s a fun undiscovered Italian friend with that “ella” ending you all love so much.
Isadora – Lop off the “ella” and trade it for our favorite cartoon friend and you get Isadora. You’ll be in creative company, Bjork gave this name to her child.
Isolde- Tristan’s love is deserving of more attention.
Isotta – This actually *is* the name of Isabella Rossellini’s twin sister, who chose being a professor of Italian over acting. I’m besotted.
Mirabelle – This one screams “look! I’m beautiful!” (in a good way).
Serafina – Bennifer Affleck yadayadayada. Spell it with an “F” for more cultural authenticity, or use a ‘PH’ in the French Seraphine.
Sisters: Calantha, Guinevere, Marina, Penelope, Valentina
Brothers: Anatole, Balthazar, Casimir, Lorenzo, Paolo
For more strictly Italian substitutions, please visit Le Tante Sorelle di Isabella
Above: Portrait of Isabella d’Este by Titian