It has often been criticised by the German speaking population of the province on the grounds that the new names have little historical relevance and many entirely new names were introduced.
Toponomy played a major part in Tolomei's struggle right from the beginning. In the articles he wrote for The Italian Nation he already used italianized names, although these early attempts lacked the method and purpose of his later activities. In those days he would use the name Alto Trentino - High Trentino for South Tyrol, not having yet come upon and revived the Napoleonic creation Alto Adige - High Adige, which would become the official italian designation for the province after World War I and up to this day. Likewise, he used to call the Brenner Pass "Pirene", which in his later publications would become "Brennero. His work became more systematical with the founding of the Archivio per l' Alto Adige, through which he began to propose italianized names for villages and geographical features in South Tyrol. In 1916, a year after Italy, instigated by Allied promises and its own nationalist tendencies, entered the First World War, a commission was set up to find Italian names for places in the "soon to be conquered territory". The commission (composed of Tolomei himself, Professor of Botany and Chemistry Ettore De Toni as well as the librarian Vittorio Baroncelli) reported almost 12,000 Italian place and district names on the basis of Tolomei's studies. In June 1916, this list was published as Volume XV, Part II of Memorie of the Reale Società Geografica Italiana as well as in the Archivio per l'Alto Adige.
After the end of the Second World War, reform processes tolerated the dual use of names on street signs, while the Italian names remain as the official ones, based on the 1940 law.
In the 1990s, a commission consisting of the Professors Josef Breu (Vienna, representing Austria in the Toponymy commission of the UN), Peter Glatthard (Berne) and Carlo Alberto Mastrelli (Florence, current "Archivio per l'Alto Adige") failed as Mastrelli insisted on the fascist decrees, while Breu and Glatthard promoted the UN-Guidelines.
This methodology was however not applied in a uniform, consistent manner, so that often the choice of name seems to have been arbitrary, thus increasing the perception of imposition. While the aim of Tolomeis toponymy was that of bringing the Latin history back to the surface, more often than not it managed to bury the romanic roots of historically grown names even deeper, partly due to the linguistic incompetence of Tolomei and his team. This can be exemplified by the name of the village Lana, which probably goes back to a roman landholder named Leo, whose territory was called (praedium) Leonianum. In the High Middle Ages the name was pronounced Lounan. In the bavarian dialect the vocal ou changed to a in the 12th century, leading to Lanan, which became today's Lana in German. Contrary to his stated methodology Tolomei kept the name Lana, probably because it sounded italian and in italian "lana" means "wool". The correct italianisation would have been "Leoniano". The same applies to German Trens and Terenten, derived from Latin torrens (stream), which where italianized as Trens and Terento, not recognizing the romanic roots still present in the German name. Apart from the frequent mistakes and inconsistencies of Tolomeis toponymy, its main fault is the loss of historical information contained in the historically grown geographical names, an effect which was fully intended by Tolomei. Instead of bringing back alpine romanity which spoke a rhaeto-romance language, he superimposed the "tuscan" language on which modern italian is based on the local romanic traditions. A case in point is the name Vipiteno, derived from Latin Vipitenum. Tolomei preferred this Latin name to Sterzen, the name commonly used by italians at that time. In doing so, however, he unwittingly chose an already germanified name. The original alpine-romanic name would have been Vibidina. The German sound change in the 8th century changed this into Wipitina. As such it was first mentioned in the medieval latin manuscripts, and in the more recent ones it was further latinized into Vipitenum, a name which sounded as if it could have been of ancient roman origin and thus was chosen by Tolomei. This shows that while Tolomeis stated intention was to restore South Tyrol to its original romanity, his actual policy was that of a political italianization of the territory, and to this goal all his purportedly scientific activities where subordinate.