Arbëresh Villages and Surnames in Southern Italy  

Posted by: Italian Surname Database

The Albanian people began to settle in Italy (in particular Sicily and Calabria) about 1400 AD and arrived as a sort of military mercenary to the country. In return for their help they were given land grants and allowed to permanently take up residence in the country. They formed communities and integrated well within the land and were often referred to as Greci or Greeks. They currently live in about 49 mountain towns and villages from the Abruzzi Appenines to the south of Italy and Sicily.

Arbëresh Villages in Sicily:

  • Biancavilla  - Catania
  • Bronte - Catania
  • Contessa Entellina - Palermo
  • Mezzojuso- Palermo
  • Palazzo Adriano - Palermo
  • Piana degli Abanesi (Piana dei Greci - prior to 1940) - Palermo
  • Sant’Angelo Muxaro - Agrigento
  • San Michele di Ganzaria - Catania
  • Santa Cristina Gela- Palermo
For a list of some known names and more about the history of Albanians in Sicily, see the article at Sicilian Arbëresh Surnames.

Calabrian Arbëresh Villages in Cosenza:

  • Acquaformosa
  • Castroregio
  • Cavallerizzo
  • Cervicati
  • Civita
  • Eian
  • Falconara
  • Firmo
  • Frascineto
  • Lungro
  • Macchia
  • Montegrassano
  • Plataci
  • Rota Greca
  • S. Basile
  • S. Bernedetto
  • S. Caterina
  • S. Cosmo
  • S. Demetrio
  • S. Giorgio
  • S. Lorenzo
  • S. Marco
  • S. Martino
  • S. Sofia
  • Spezzano
  • Vaccarizzo

Calabrian Arbëresh Villages in Catanzaro:

  • Amato
  • Andali
  • Arietta
  • Caraffa
  • Carfizzi
  • Gizzeria
  • Marcedusa
  • Pallagorio
  • S. Nicola
  • Vena
  • Zagarise
  • Zangarona

For a list of some known names and more about the history of Albanians in Calabria, see the article at Calabrian Arbëresh Surnames.

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Beware of Email Scams  

Posted by: Italian Surname Database in ,

Beware of emails inquiring about the death of an ancestor or relative in a foreign country signed by a lawyer, or "esq".  The author is interested in gaining personal information or validating your email and ISP.  The letter looks something like this:

Hope Chambers
The Barn House,
38 Meadow Way

Hello (Surname is inputted here),
I am David Homes, from Hope Chambers, London-UK. Please this is just an inquiry.
I am trying to find out if you are by any chance related to Late Mr. Guissepe Agostino who died in March 2008 in UK.
I believe he is originally from Italy. But was based in UK.
Do get back to me urgently.

Yours in service,

David Homes Esq.

Should you receive one (or several of these emails) please do NOT respond. This is just one of several email scams that circulate annually - Real inquires from Barristers or Solicitors offices would be sent to your home address by registered mail and never by email.

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Statistical Data of Argentina  

Posted by: Italian Surname Database in

This site will give you the Distribution of Surnames in Buenos Aires City . The information is taken from a 2001 voter list and you will notice that many of the surnames have either Italian or Spanish origin.

Regretfully the other links on the left side of the page don't seem to be working but it's still an interesting site to browse through.

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American Speech  

Posted by: Italian Surname Database in ,

The Anglicization of Italian Surnames in the United States
Joseph G. Fucilla 
American Speech
Vol. 18, No. 1 (Feb., 1943), pp. 26-32
(article consists of 7 pages)
Published by: Duke University Press
Stable URL:

I found this interesting article on the Anglicization of Italian Surnames in the United States by Joseph G. Fucilla of Northwestern University. The full article is available for purchase by the publisher for $15.00.

If you order or have read the full article please stop back here and let us know your thoughts on it.

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Naming Traditons - First Names  

Posted by: Italian Surname Database in

 While I know this blog is about surnames, I would like to stop a minute and talk about first names and Italian naming patterns. It's a subject I find that rarely gets old and can be useful while researching.

Ok, so we have all heard about the *traditional* Italian naming pattern of the first born male is named after the paternal grandfather, the first born female after the paternal grandmother, the second born male after the maternal grandfather and the second born female after the maternal grandmother. While this is a fairly recent tradition (in my opinion of course) I found that in many families this is not how it worked until the more recent records of the early to mid 1900's.

This was especially true on my paternal side where the opposite naming patterns applied.  The first born male was actually named after the maternal grandfather, the first born female after the maternal grandmother, etc.  I found this pattern began early in the civil records and continued to my father's generation.  Only recently, has the more recognized pattern been followed which I find interesting.  This pattern would break of course if a child passed away and another child born shortly after in which case the name would be *recycled*. Sometimes the middle name, if given would be changed to differentiate between the two children and sometimes the name would remain the same.  And of course, lets not forget that very often the name Maria precedes many female names - Maria Rosa, Maria Antonia, Maria Concetta, etc.   My family named each one of their female children this way.

So if you are having trouble finding a lost relative try switching the names around and see if anything new turns up.  I managed to find more than one ancestor this way.

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Book Recommendation for October  

Posted by: Italian Surname Database in , ,

A must have book when doing Italian research is Tradford Cole's Italian Genealogical Records. Chapter 3 has some wonderful information about Italian Surnames and how they came to be.

Interestingly enough is that although there appears to be hundred's of thousand's of Italian Surnames, when you break them all down, they are all derived from some pretty simple root names. Endings are added to the root word to describe the individual, a trait, a characteristic, residence or a family line.

While I always thought that my surname Angilletta may have meant little Angel, I am now beginning to wonder if perhaps it really means "of the family of little Angelo". I would need to trace my family much farther back than I have to prove this but it's still interesting to to know the possibility exists.

Have a look through the book and then try to break your surname down to the root. Perhaps you will find something new that could help you with your research. And don't forget to come back and post here if you do find something interesting.

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Setting Goals for October  

Posted by: Italian Surname Database in

Sorry I have been away for so long but with Carole's passing and the updating of records I have been a bit (okay, well a lot) behind in everything. The good news is that I have been adding names into the database and I should hopefully be caught up soon.

I have also been updating the Links portion of the Calabria Exchange to include references to other than Calabria. Recently added pages include Sicily, South American & Spanish, and Lazio resource links. I encourage you to have a look and please tell me what you think of it. If there are any links you wish to add, please contact me.

As always, I have been busy answering as many emails as I can and organizing my personal files. My office is starting to look like a storage for paper and books which is not very comfortable to work from so my goal for this month is to organize and update the sites and my work space.

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