The Italian Genealogical ABC’s: Days of the Week

I’ve recently been enamored with Italian genealogy (see here) because of digging into friends with Italian ancestry. I’ve come across names like Bugni, Catania, and Sorrentino and fell in love with the language and decided to learn it. As part of my study, I’m starting a series called “The Italian Genealogical ABC’s” on important genealogical words you’ll find in Italian documents.

The Italian Genealogical ABC's

This week it is all about the days of the week. While days are not as common as years or dates (21st, 22nd, etc.), they are still important when translating the document. In the picture below, you will find the days of the week — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday — translated into Italian as well as the Italian abbreviations.

Now that you’ve gotten a chance to check out the translations and abbreviations, let’s go into a little history, etymology and other trivia facts about the days of the week in Italian.

FUN FACT #1: Italian days of the week are never capitalized.

FUN FACT #2: The origin of most of the days of the week come from Teutonic deities.

FUN FACT #3: The translation for ‘days of the week’ in Italian is ‘giorni della settimana’

FUN FACT #4: In addition to being named after Teutonic/Roman deities the days of the week are associated with a body in our solar system.

  • lunedì = Luna = Moon
  • martedì = Marte = Mars
  • mercoledì = Mercurius = Mercury
  • giovedì = Giove = Jupiter
  • venerdì = Venere = Venus
  • sabato = Saturno = Saturn
  • domenica = Sole = Sun

What other facts or tips do you have about learning and transcribing the days of the week in Italian? Be sure to comment below and share with your fellow genealogy friends.

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Italian Surnames: 20 Most Popular Surnames

Since I’ve been knee-deep in Italian research for several families (Serago, Sorrentino, Bugni, & Pescatore) I decided to take a more in-depth look at Italian surnames, their history and what they mean. Today’s blog post goes over the twenty* most popular Italian surnames according to the Italian Surname Database.  While this list is by no means exhaustive, it is a start on some of the more popular Italian surnames you will find in your research. What other ones have you come across? Leave a comment below with your favorite Italian surname.

*Yes, there is two picture missing, but that is because Rossi and Russo are derivatives of each other as are Ricci and Rizzo.


Rossi is said to be the most common surname in all of Italy and very common in other countries due to the Italian diasporas during the 19th and 20th centuries. Due to these diasporas, you can individuals with the last name Rossi and Italian heritage across the globe, including in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Switzerland, the United States and Uruguay.



This last name is an occupational (job) surname from the Italian word ‘ferraro’, which means blacksmith. This is originally derived from the Latin word ‘ferrum’ meaning iron. This particular surname is the Italian equivalent of the surname Smith, meaning it is incredibly common.

Alternative Surname Spelling:  Ferari



This was a surname commonly given to children in Italy who were abandoned or given up for adoption by their parents. This name is from the Latin word, ‘expositus,’ the part participle of the Latin verb ‘exponere,’ which literally means to ‘placed outside’ or ‘exposed. After the unification of Italy in 1861, laws were put in place that forbid the practice of giving surnames that reflected a child’s origins.

Alternative Surname Spelling: Esposti, Esposto Esposti, Delgi Esposti 



This surname comes from the word ‘bianco,’ meaning ‘white’ and was often given to a person who had white hair or a very light complexion.

Alternative Surname Spelling: Bianca, Bianco, Bianchessi, Bianchetti, Bianchini, Bianciotti, Biancolini, Bianconcini, Biancotto

Romano is the Italian for of ‘Romanus,’ the Latin word for Rome. This popular Italian surname was often used to denote an individual from Rome, Italy.
Alternative Surname Spelling: Romani

This surname is from the word ‘colombo’, which means dove and was a last named often give to dove keepers. This name also increased in popularity during the Middle Ages due to the fact that the dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Catholicism.
Alternate Surname Spellings: Colombani, Colombera, Colombini, Colombrino
This surname is drived from the Italian adjective ‘ricco’ which means ‘curly. Ricci and its variations like Rizzo are a nickname for someone with curly hair:
Alternate Surname Spellings: Riccio, Rizzi, Rizzo, Rizza, Risso, Riccelli, Ricciarelli, Riccetti, Riccini, Riccioli, Ricciolino, Ricciulli, Ricciotti, Riccioni, Ricciuto, Ricceri, Riccitiello, Rizzello, Rizziello, Rizzetti, Rizzetto, Rizzini, Rizzoli, Rizzola, Rizzotti, Rizzoni, Rizzone, Rizzari, Rizzato, Rizzieri, Rizzuti, Rissolo.
The surname Marino has derived from the Latin word, ‘marinus,’ meaning ‘of the sea,’. The Marino and Marini surnames indicated someone who lives or works near the sea (‘mare’ – Italian/Latin).
Alternate Surname Spellings: Marini, Marin, Marinelli, Marinella, Mariniello, Marinetti, Marinuzzi, Marinolli, Marinotti, Marinoni, Marinato, Marianacci
This surname indicates an individual from Greece.
Alternate Surname Spellings: Grieco, Greci, Grechi, Grego
From the Italian word for brown, Bruno was a nickname for a person with brown clothing, hair, or skin. It comes from the German word, ‘brun,’ meaning dark brown.
Alternate Surname Spellings: Bruni, Bruna, Brunazzi, Brunello, Bruneri, Brunone, Brunori
This was a nickname for a proud person or one with a vain or cocky attitude. It comes from the Latin ‘gallus,’ which means cock or rooster.
Alternate Surname Spellings: Galli, Galletti, Gallini, Galloni, Gallucci
Deriving from the Old French word, ‘conte’ meaning count, it denoted someone who worked for a count (noble) or was possibly himself a count. It was adopted as a mark of nobility for many individuals.
Alternate Surname Spellings: Conte, Contiello
A patronymic (a name that derived from the name of the father) surname meaning ‘son of Luca.’ The given name Luca is the Italian translation of Luke, from the Grek name Loukas meaning from Lucania, a region found in Italy.
Alternate Surname Spellings: Di Luca, Diluca
De Luca
This surname denotes a person who lived by a river or the sea and comes from the words coast or riverbank. It is Italian, Spanish and Portuguese in origin.
Alternate Surname Spellings: Da Costa, Di Costa, De Costa
Giordano comes from the Italian form of the name Jordan. This particular surname has its roots in the Hebrew name “Yarden” which is the name of the Jordan river flowing between the countries of Jordan and Israel. It is derived from ‘yarad’ which means to descend or flow down.
Alternate Surname Spellings: Giordani
This comes from the Italian word ‘manco’ which literally means left-handed and is Italian in origin.
Alternate Surname Spellings: Mancino, Mancinelli
This is a geographical surname for someone who came from Lombardy, a specific region in Italy which received its name from the Lombards, a Germanic tribe who invaded the region in the 6th century.
Alternate Surname Spellings: Lombardo, Lombardini, Lombardelli
This name is derived from the diminutive of the given name of Mauro, the Italian form of Maurus, meaning dark-skinned of someone coming from Mauritania in northern Africa. This surname may also be derived from the word ‘morro’ meaning rock.
Alternate Surname Spellings: Moreti, Moroelli, Morini, Morucci, Moruzzi, Morucchio, Moratelli, Morisi, Moratti, Morazzi, Morassutti, Moreschi, Moroni
That is is for the 20 (er..18) popular Italian surnames. Which other names have you come across in your Italian research?

Genealogy in the Works: What it Means to be a Genealogist

Genealogy. When you hear it most often images of older folks or Mormons come to mind, but put that aside for a moment. Genealogy is so much more than dates and places. It is people, it is lives, it is stories that we shouldn’t forget.

In this series, Genealogy in the Works we will be interviewing genealogist of every background. This includes gay and queer genealogists. What it means for the family tree when you are a transgender individual or how to approach issues of sensitivity like slavery and indigenous tribes. All of this comes together to create an intersectional view of genealogy and family history.

This series really wouldn’t make sense without explaining who I am first, so here goes:

Becks Campbell
Becks Campbell, 2016

Who are you?

I’m Becks Campbell. I run The Hipster Historian blog and am the sole owner of Life Stories Transcription Services.  I’ve been an amateur genealogist for most of my life and in the last year have decided to go into my favorite hobby professionally.  I’ve been married to my college sweetheart for 12 years and live in the Pacific Northwest.

Becks Campbell and Spouse
Becks Campbell and her Husband, 2016


Why genealogy?

My mother is a professional genealogist and has been for well over twenty years. As a child growing up in the Mormon Church family ties and genealogy was emphasized heavily to me and after I left the church the passion for genealogy still stuck around. I’m completely obsessed with the stories of the past and who we were and who we will become.

Donna Mae Blocher
Becks late paternal grandmother, Donna Mae Blocher

What does it mean to be a genealogist?

Loaded question. Genealogy, by definition, is the study and research of ancestral lines. But in reality, it is so much more than that. We as genealogists are tasked with finding long-lost loved ones, records that may not exist and people that don’t want to be found. We pour through years of directories and censuses, and in some cases, it can be quite sobering what you’ve found.

In my narrative writing project Forgotten Women of History I’ve found stories of domestic abuse, child abandonment, and murder, just to name a few. We need to be aware that when we are researching a family line either for ourselves, for friends or for clients that there needs to be sensitivity and ethics involved.

What is your favorite genealogy blog to follow?

Right now there are so many amazing blogs to follow but I would highly suggest checking out Geneabloggers by Thomas MacEntee. It is the biggest source of networking and genealogy related blogs on the web right now.

What is your current field of study or research?

After several friends with Italian heritage asked me to research their history, I got hooked. I’m currently researching the Sorrentino‘s, Serago‘s, Pescatore‘s and Bugni‘s. In addition, because most of my work has been coming from that area I am slowly (but surely!) learning Italian. It is a big task, but I’m ready for it.

Where else can we find you?

I’m all over the web, but my favorite places to hang out are here at The Hipster Historian, working on transcriptions at my business Life Stories Transcription Services and my narrative writing project, Forgotten Women of History.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check by next week for our next Genealogy in the Works interview!

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