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Popular Italian Last Names and the Meaning Behind Them

Italian Last Names
What is so special about Italian last names? What is the tradition and history behind Italian names and how they were formed? To find out, know about some of the popular Italian last name and the history and meaning behind them.
Rutuja Jathar
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Last names, also called family names or surnames, came into practice around 14th century when the need of a second name was proposed so as to recognize individuals having the same name. The specialty of Italian last names is that they end with a vowel that makes them easily recognizable as well. Italian surnames play a huge role in distinguishing or tracing the origin of the Italian heritage and ancestry.
A detailed study about these names leads us to the fact that Italian names have developed from distinct sources, these sources were occupation, patronym, toponymic, description, etc. These factors are more or less the same deciding factors for last names of other ethnic groups as well.
Origin of Italian Surnames
Occupational Last Names
These last names were based on the kind of job the family performed for decades. Such occupational last names are 'Contadino' or 'Zappa' for farmer, 'Forni' or 'Farina' for baker and 'Martelli' for carpenter.
Patronymic Last Names
These names are given by the father or, more rarely, by the mother. This is generally indicated by a prefix like 'von', 'van', 'de', 'di', etc. for instance 'Di Giovanni' (Johnson), 'D'Angelo', 'De Luca', etc.
Toponymic Names
Here people were named according to the region in which the person's family resided initially. The place can be a local area such as 'La porta', 'Montana', 'Fontana', 'Della Valle', etc., as well as the geographical region of Italy like 'Milani', 'Napolitano', or 'Di Geniva'.
Nicknames as Last Names
This was a unique tradition that was followed while forming last names in Italy. Several personality traits, features, and characteristics of an individual were used to indicate him hence, they became last names of his family. For instance, 'Selvaggi' for savage and 'Poccoli' for short! Some of the most familiar Italian last names, based on such nicknames are 'Grossi', 'Rossi', 'Morelli', 'Gatto', 'Cavallo', 'Lepore', 'Allegretti', 'Volpe', etc.
Italian Last Names
Common Last Names
Common Last Names
~ Bianchi ~ Bruno ~ Colombo ~ Conti
~ De Luca ~ Esposito ~ Ferrari ~ Gallo
~ Giordano ~ Greco ~ Lombardi ~ Mancini
~ Marino ~ Moretti ~ Ricci ~ Rizzo
~ Romano ~ Rossi ~ Russo ~ Costa
Italian Surnames List
Italian Surnames List
~ Aiello ~ Abatantuono ~ Alda ~ Alfonso
~ Angeli ~ Bertinelli ~ Angeli ~ Durante
~ Braschi ~ Alfonso ~ Arcuri ~ Argento
~ Armetta ~ Autieri ~ Baggio ~ Bancroft
~ Barale ~ Basilone ~ Belvedere ~ Benigni
~ Bertinelli ~ Borrelli ~ Braschi ~ Canalis
~ Capotondi ~ Caprioglio ~ Cardano ~ Carell
~ Celentano ~ Chiatti ~ Ciarlo ~ Ciricillo
~ Colombari ~ Compagnoni ~ Crenna
~ Cucinotta ~ D'Onofrio ~ Damato ~ Danza
~ De Filippo ~ DeLuise ~ DeSare ~ DeVito
~ DiMaggio ~ Durante ~ Fabian ~ Falchi
~ Ferilli ~ Filangieri ~ Francis ~ Fubini
~ Galiena ~ Gerini ~ Giannini ~ Giarrusso
~ Gravina ~ Grazia ~ Grimaldi ~ Guerritore
~ Imbruglia ~ Lampanelli ~ Lanza ~ Lippucci
~ Luttazzi ~ Manfredi ~ Mantegna
~ Marciano ~ Martin ~ Mastroianni
~ Monte ~ Napolitano
~ Nero ~ Palminteri ~ Parmiggiano ~ Peano
~ Pezzo ~ Pravo ~ Prima ~ Quatro
~ Ramazzotti ~ Rea ~ Stefani ~ Tartaglia
~ Toffoli ~ Tomba ~ Trieste ~ Valentino
~ Verdone ~ Zucchero ~ Funicello
Famous Last Names in Italy
Famous Last Names in Italy
~ De Niro ~ Fonda ~ Bello ~ Bellucci
~ Cage ~ Costello ~ Cardinale ~ Coca
~ DiCaprio ~ DeVito ~ D'Aquino ~ Ferrari
~ Giorgi ~ Pacino ~ Pesci ~ Sinatra
~ Stallone ~ Travolta
Longest and Shortest last names
Longest and Shortest last names
~ Tschurtschenthaler ~ Bo
~ Di Francescantonio ~ Pe
~ Pasquadibisceglie ~ Po
~ Mastroberardino ~ Re
~ Monterubbianesi ~ Mo
~ Mastrofrancesco ~ My
~ Castrogiovanni ~ Hu
~ Colafranceschi ~ Wu
~ Abbracciavento
There is one more tradition and that is to adopt the name of a religious institution, or any establishment and civil record of Italy as the last name of the family. Isn't that unique? This is not an exhaustive list, and a lot more names could have been added to it, however, the aforementioned information with a few examples was just so that you get an idea of what an Italian name should sound like.