Attested by the name Ispira (712), Ispira (XIV). Appears as Ispratium in Aegidius Tschudi's Beschreibung Galliae Comatae. According to Gaudenzio Merula the origin of the name could lie onto the rocky nature of this landscape; Hisprum quasi asperum ob saxorum difficultates, that is to say equivalent to the Latin hispida (cf. hispid and ispido) and related to the Provençalispre with the "d" shifting to an "r" due to rhotacism.
Locally, the research establishment is referred to as the CCR (Centro Comune di Ricerca) or as EURATOM - based on its history in nuclear research. The site covers an area of 157 hectares (390 acres), where the original presence of pines, birches, oaks and chestnut trees has partially been preserved.
The site still contains a number of experimental nuclear reactors in the process of being decommissioned.