Popes and lovers, assassins and pacifists, artists, scholars, inventors, and industrialists: There are no set criteria to qualify for an Italian street named in your honor -- though saints, like important dates in the country's short history, are pretty much a shoo-in. Among literally thousands (including several named Via John F. Kennedy and Via "Abramo" Lincoln), here are just a handful of monikers to get you started.

Via Garibaldi: Giuseppe Garibaldi is one of a select group of Italian heroes to whom it almost seems impudent to award a mere via, or street -- a corso (boulevard) at least, or preferably a piazza would seem more appropriate. Garibaldi fought, in uneasy alliance with the Piedmontese, against the French, the Austrians, the Spanish, the Sicilians, and the Neapolitans, all in the quest for Italian unification, which was largely achieved by late 1860. His exploits even earned him the offer of a Civil War commission from President Abraham Lincoln. Incidentally, Via dei Mille ("of the thousand") is another Garibaldi reference: the Mille were the 800 or so Redshirts who set out from Genoa for Sicily alongside Giuseppe in 1860.

Via Roma: It may not be strictly accurate that "all roads lead to Rome," but in most Italian towns and cities you'll find a Via Roma that points in that general direction. (Rome itself is a notable exception, for obvious reasons.) Even the tiny Alpine resort of Courmayeur, about as far away from Rome as it's possible to travel on the mainland, has a Via Roma. After crossing the Alps with his elephants, it was from close to here that Carthaginian general Hannibal marched in 218 BC, on his way toÂ? Rome.

Via XXV Aprile: The date of Italy's liberation from World War II German occupation, April 25 is both a national holiday and a commemorative name for streets and squares across the peninsula. It's not strictly accurate everywhere, however: As the Fascist armies went into retreat, "liberation" occurred at different times in different places. April 25, 1945, is the date Milan fell (Mussolini's corpse was strung up for public ridicule in Piazza Loreto on April 29), but it was only in the very last hours of April that Udine, the last Italian city to free itself from occupation, fell.

Via Matteotti: Pretty much everywhere from one-street Monteriggioni, in Tuscany, upward has a Via Matteotti (he is among the rare few awarded a Ponte, a bridge, in Rome). Socialist politician Giacomo Matteotti was the most prominent among a group of public figures who stood up to Mussolini and his Fascist Party in the 1920s. Twelve days after denouncing the Facists in parliament for electoral fraud, on June 10, 1924, he was kidnapped and murdered by the secret police.

Via XXVII Aprile: When I asked the custodian of Castagno's brooding Last Supper, on Florence's Via XXVII Aprile, how the street got its name, he replied: "Non lo so." What he didn't know, and few now remember, is that April 27, 1859, was the date Tuscany finally got rid of its foreign "Grand Dukes" and joined a nascent Italy -- at that time merely the (ambitious) Kingdom of Sardinia. Farther north, April 27 is the day Italian partisans arrested Mussolini. He was shot the following morning.

Via Santa Caterina: Born in 1347, St. Catherine was a controversial figure in her own time, a mystic wrapped tightly in the political intrigues of the era. She was canonized by fellow Sienese Pope Pius II in 1461, and in 1940 another Pius (XII) made her co-patron saint of Italy. Via Santa Caterina comes in another flavor, too: Santa Caterina d'Alessandria was an early Egyptian Christian sentenced to torture on a spiked breaking wheel, then martyred by beheading, in the early 4th century.

Via 1 Maggio (or Via Primo Maggio): Many countries around the world celebrate Labor Day (or Workers' Day, or variants of that) on May 1, and Italy is no exception -- hardly surprising for a country in which socialism and even communism have been significant political forces for over a century. The date is still a national holiday, the Festa del Lavoro.

Via Papa Giovanni XXIII: Prior to John Paul II, the 20th century's previous best-loved Pope was John XXIII. Although only Pope for 5 years from 1958, the 23rd John is remembered as the Pontiff who made the Church look outward, embracing universal human rights, a preference for peaceful resolutions to conflict, and good relations between Catholics and the rest of the world. It was also Pope John who, before his death in 1963, convened the Second Vatican Council.

Via XX Settembre: September 20, 1870, was the date that political control of Rome and Lazio was finally prised from the hands of the Pope -- not without violence -- and the so-called Risorgimento was practically complete. The city officially became part of the Kingdom of Italy the following month, and was made capital in 1871. Rome's Via XX Settembre is the very street down which the Italian army advanced after breaching the city gates.

Via Aldo Moro: Prime ministers are popular choices for whoever names Italy's streets and squares, but few have emerged from the shadowy, often violent politics of the 1970s to become national icons. That Aldo Moro did has less to do with his political life -- in which he notably tried to build a compromise between center-right Christian Democracy and democratic Communism -- than in the manner of his death. Moro was kidnapped by the Red Brigades, held for almost two months, and then executed. His body turned up on a Rome side-street on May 9, 1978. Conspiracy theories abound, of course.

Via IV Novembre: A defining date in the military history of the unified nation, November 4, 1918, marks the signing of the armistice between Italy and Austro-Hungary that ended World War I. The decisive Italian offensive occurred outside the town of Vittorio Veneto, near Treviso: Via Vittorio Veneto is another popular Italian street name.

Via Gramsci: Antonio Gramsci was a left-wing political theorist and philosopher whose interpretation of Marx's thought was respected in academic circles. However, it's his actions rather than his words that sealed his fame: Gramsci was a founder member (1921) and leader of the Italian Communist Party, and was known for his activism among the industrial workers of Turin's booming Fiat factories. The Fascists threw him in prison, where he died in 1937.