For Italian Americans, our Italy Ancestry Tour is a wonderful way to discover your heritage and walk in the footsteps of your grandparents. But what if you’re not sure where in Italy you’re from?
Fortunately, your Italian surname may hold the clue as many names are regional. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci was from Vinci, a small town in Tuscany (“da” in Italian means “from”).
If you have an Italian surname, here is our guide to where you may be from.
Regional Italian Surnames
Below is a list of regions and the names associated with them. Note that some names are associated with different regions; for example, Italians with the surname “Russo” may come from Milan, Naples or Sicily.
Italian Surnames: Prefixes
If you have an Italian American surname with a prefix, such as De Luca (where “de” is the prefix), then this can give you a clue about your Italian heritage.
The prefix “di” means “of” or “from” and is used to form a patronym. For example, the Italian American surname “Di Benedetto” is the equivalent of Benson (where “Benedetto” is the Italian Christian name for “Ben” and “di” denotes “son of”). However, don’t let this fool you into thinking that your great-grandfather was named “Benedetto” as, in Italy, such patronyms often derive from a favored saint or religious figure, rather than a paternal ancestor.
The prefix “da” usually denotes “from” and is often associated with the place of origin, as you saw with the earlier example of Leonardo Da Vinci. It is considered that these names arose as nicknames for a person who was from a place that they no longer lived. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci was from Vinci but predominantly worked in Florence, Milan, Rome, Bologna and Venice.
La and Lo
“La” and “lo” mean “the”, and an example Italian American surname would be “La Greca”, meaning “the Greek”. It is commonly associated with Sicilian surnames.
Discover Your Italian Roots
If you would love to discover your heritage, take a look at our Italy Ancestry Tour, which can be completely customized to you. As a part of our dedicated Italy travel service, we will research your Italian American surname to let you know the cities and regions that your ancestors may have called home. We will then create a custom-made Italy tour so that you can visit these regions and walk in your ancestors’ footsteps.
To find out more, call a friendly member of our travel team on (US) 347-594-5500 or click here to send an online inquiry.