Italian last names, or popularly known as the surname or family name, is defined as the name used to identify the members of the family as distinguished from each member’s given a name. Each country, based on its history and culture, has different sets of these surnames.
It is an interesting fact that Italy has an excessive number of last names.
Let us now take a trip back to the past and discover the roots of Italian family names. We will also take a look at the Italian last names list.
The Italian last names list is of great variety due to its long and complex history and geographical location.
History of Italian Last Names
It was said that in ancient Rome, the citizens’ names were in three parts, namely: a basic first name, a name in which a person’s family is identified, and also a unique name that describes the individual.
The basic first name, known as the praenomen, is similar to our modern Christian names. Nomen, on the other hand, is the second name which shows the genes or the family of origin and finally, the third name, cognomen, was a kind of nickname given to the individual or that side of the family.
This three-part name was common throughout the Italian history until the medieval days when the latter two names were dropped, and the people carry only one name.
However, this tradition of giving a person only one name caused confusion among the citizens, so the Italians gradually began to add a second distinguishing label to their names.
By the 15th century, most Italians identified themselves by their individual names, as well as their last names.
Italian last names list may be very long, but these names commonly identify a person by their family or their father. These types of surnames are referred to as patronymics.
Italian last names that include a prefix of “di” or “da” often mean “son of.”
An example of this is when you come upon a family name “di Francesco,” it would mean “the son of Francesco.”
The suffix “ucci,” on the other hand, means “descendant of.”
Most surnames come from a Christian name, a place or a nickname. Occupation or the social status of a physical characteristic can also be a source of a family name.
An example of this is the surname “Rossi,” which is the most common family name in the Italian last names list, which means red and might refer to an ancestor with a ruddy complexion, or red hair.
Italian surnames can also identify where an individual came from.
Some of these family names simply identify a person with local geography, such as “di Montagna” for “of the mountain.”
Individuals or families that migrated often took on the last name that describes their region of origin, like “Milani” or “Romano” if they were from Milan or Rome.
As for Italian women, they keep their Italian maiden name after marriage although they are allowed to add their husband’s name after their own.
This option though is not very attractive due to the complexity of requirements to modify a name in official documents.
For children born of married couples, they automatically get the father’s family name.
As promised, here is the 100 most common Italian last names list, in order of occurrence:
Italian Last Names (UPDATED)