Shakespeare once asked the most famous question of all time, "what's in a name?". As a matter of fact, a lot! When we delve into the history of names, we can find many interesting facts about family lineage. This is why one begins to search for family name history and its origin. One country that can boast of the largest collection of family names is Italy. There are over 350,000 Italian surnames that surpass any other cultural surnames. We shall have a look at some of the cool Italian last names in the following paragraphs.
Origins of Italian Last Names
The origin lies in the ancient city of Rome. People's names consisted of three parts, the basic first name, a name to identify the family, and lastly a unique name describing the individual. This system persisted until medieval times and then became obsolete until the 1500's. The single name system began to create confusion among people and soon the two name system came into existence. The first name consisted of an individual name and the second name become a surname. Initially, surnames consisted of the names of the father or someone important in the family. These were known as patronymics and included prefixes like di and da, which meant 'son of' or 'daughter of'. You will also observe suffixes like 'ucci', which means 'descendant of' a particular person.
Most of the Italian surnames help identify the geographical location of a particular person. For example, -asso, -ato, and -on mean that a person maybe from Veneto. People from Sicily are identified with the -aro, -isi, or osso in the end of their surnames. People also began to use their origins or place of residence of the family as a surname. For example, della Valle means of a valley and da Vinci means from Vinci. Even landmarks were used as surnames, like Fontana, meaning fountain.
Occupations became a great source of the origin of surnames. People began to identify themselves on the basis of their family occupations, like Contadino meaning farmer, delle Fave meaning 'of the beans grocer', Marinindicating a fisherman, etc. A few last names originated from the physical features or mannerism of a person. For example, a person with red hair was known as Rossi, noisy families were known as Rumore, Basso meaning short in stature, etc.
Interesting Last Names
We had a brush up on the origins of last names in Italy from the above paragraph. Let us now enlist some of the really interesting last names.
- di Francescantonio
Common Last Names
Famous Last Names
There are many famous Italians who have made their family names known to all by their work and contributions to the society. Some of the very famous names are as follows:
- da Vinci
- de Niro
- di Caprio
As you can see, most of these last names have simple origins that have stuck on for centuries. Once you understand the origin of the surname, tracing a family lineage becomes very easy.