Question of the Week: Do you have Italian roots?

+14 votes
1.5k views

Do you have Italian roots?

Depending on which DNA report I look at - I have about 1%!  

How about you?

P.S.  If you do, you might be interested in our Italian Roots Project

P.P.S. Reshare the question image on Facebook so your friends and family will see your answer.

asked in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
edited by Eowyn Langholf
Our family DNA is interesting. We are able to consistently trace the family line back to the point of immigration for most cases, and usually our people came over in the 1600's. So we know what countries they came to the US from -- England, Wales, Scotland via Antrim, and the Rhineland. But when we look at some of the admixture breakdowns on GEDMatch, we get this consistent percentage of Italian showing up. It is in the neighborhood of 10%, va bene!

I am pretty sure the Templars are to blame. I told my daughter, "Your fantasy DNA is half Jedi, a quarter Gambler, and a quarter Scientist. The reality is more like a quarter Moisture Farmer, a quarter Orphan Scrounge, and half Sith."
The roots of my hair or whatever is left of it are just like the rest of my hair, gray. Actually I am half Scotch and half soda.

my great great grandparents came over from 

Rezzonico, Como, Lombardia, Italy. Our family names include Arrieri, Mosconi, Gambetta. IM definitely italian on my mother's side and very Scottish on my fathers. 

My origins on familytreedna where I did my test through it says European 61% under that category it's West and central Europe 49% Scandinavia 12% next category is new world 31% under that category is north and central America 29% South America 2% next category is african 2% under that category it says west Africa 2%
My Italian ancestors from my grandfather's side came from the Tyrol in the northernmost part of Italy. His family arrived here on Austrian passports but it has been part of the Habsburgs region Prussia-Hungarian Empire, Bohemia, Bavaria and a bunch of other places; my knowledge of history being quite limited. My Grandmother's family is from the Lucca province which encompasses Florence. My Italian DNA comes out at 32% (rather than the 50% based on known family names) which means my grandfather had a pretty large percentage of Italian DNA despite the history of where he came from.
Edit: Oops! Meant to answer, not comment!

35 Answers

+5 votes
Ancestry DNA ethnicity results show Italy 3 percent
answered by David Culbreth G2G Crew (350 points)
+8 votes

Boy, do I, and I didn't even know how much until a year or two ago!

My biological father's parents were straight from Italy, and my mother (who was adopted)... her father is Italian, too. So I'm 75% Italian.

My biological father is 

  • 68.75% from Montesano sulla Marcellana (Salerno, Campania)
  • 25% from San Pietro in Guarano (Cosenza, Calabria)
  • 6.25% from Tramutola (Potenza, Basilicata)

My mother is

  • 25% from Favale di Malvaro, Lorsica, Orero, Monteghirfo, and Verzi (Genoa, Liguria)
  • 12.5% from Palermo (Palermo, Sicilia)
  • 12.5% from Melilli (Siracusa, Sicilia)

As a result, my DNA results tend to be very confusing and sometimes overestimate how Italian I am.

answered by G. Bartomeo G2G6 Mach 7 (78.3k points)
edited by G. Bartomeo

None of the rest of my ancestry is from that part of Europe. The rest is like... England, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Czech Republic (and likely a little something hiding in there, if the DNA matches from Hungary who have contacted me are to be believed), etc. in varying amounts. My DNA results from Ancestry give me as:

  • 77% Italian
  • 9% Germanic Europe
  • 5% England, Wales, and Northwestern Europe
  • 3% Greece and the Balkans
  • 3% Spain
  • 2% Eastern Europe and Russia
  • 1% Baltic States

23andMe thinks my ancestry is:

  • 62.2% Italian
  • 10.7% Broadly Southern European
  • 10.1% French and German
  • 5.7% Broadly Northwestern European
  • 3.8% Broadly European
  • 3.3% Balkan
  • 1.7% Western Asian
  • 0.6% British & Irish
  • 0.4% Iberian
  • 0.3% Broadly Western Asian and Native American
  • 0.1% Finnish
  • 0.1% Broadly Sub-Saharan African
  • 0.1% Japanese (???)
  • 0.1% West African
  • 0.8% Unassigned

Honestly, I think AncestryDNA is more confused than 23andMe.

Ethnicity wise, 23andMe is generally considered the superior service. They have a well-known "glitch" when it comes to Italian results. People who are mixed Middle Eastern + Northern European (for example, one parent is Syrian and the other Swedish) will sometimes get false "Italian" results as the 23andMe algorithm gets confused and mistakes the recent admixture for ancient admixture.

You have some Czech ancestry which is probably where that Southern European is coming from.

I was able to connect Ronnie James Dio to the Tree fairly recently, and like you, he was a 75% Italian! Well, actually I think he was genetically engineered in a lab somewhere to ROCK AS HARD as humanly possible. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Padavona-1
I don't have Italian heritage, but my husband and kids do!  His mother grew up/went to school with Ronnie James Dio!  Small world, but we knew that, LOL.
What DNA company gave you this kind of detail? I got percentages of my ancestry, but not specifically where each region was a part of the total percentage.

BTW I have 10 percent Italian according to several DNA testing companies. I have not traced any ancestors to Italy, but I have a lot of French and Swiss ancestors and they border Italy so I am assuming it comes from them.

Hey, Julie! I calculated it out myself.

In general (though it can vary a lot), a person gets...

  • 50% of their DNA from their mother and 50% from their father
    • 25% from each of their four grandparents (their mother's parents and their father's parents)
      • 12.5% from each of their eight great grandparents (their grandparents' parents)
        • 6.25% from each of their sixteen great great grandparents (their great grandparents' parents)

And it keeps going further like that.

Since I have a family tree built, I just looked at each of my parents' ancestors to see which ones came from Italy and from where. Some of these are DNA confirmed, some of them haven't yet been DNA confirmed due to the nature of having ancestors from small towns and villages who were not very prolific.

If I had to guess, if you have no ancestors in Italy, you might be matching the northern Italians by the Switzerland border in the Alps.

+4 votes
I have 0% Italian DNA and no Italian ancestors. The only possibility would be if I connected to Royalty back to medieval times, but so far I find no proof of that.
answered by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 5 (56.5k points)
Once you get back to one Count or Duke or King, you will find that you are related to most of them!

My "Italian" ancestors didn't have much roots there. They were kings and counts as the result of Norman invasions and their children (at least those that were my ancestors) married off to what is now Spain, France, Switzerland, and Germany.
+5 votes
Italy 34%

England, Wales, and Northwestern Europe 30%

Germanic Europe 23%

Greece and the Balcans 7%

France 6 %

I know my fathers family both maternal and paternal came from Italy.

My mothers maternal side is the English and her paternal the Germanic.
answered by Louise Halpin G2G6 Mach 1 (12.5k points)
+5 votes
Join us! We have free cannolis!

I'm not only a member of the Italian Roots project, I'm also a project coordinator. Feel free to join and ask me, Michael or any of the others questions!

With the Ancestry update, I am 43% Southern Italian. I was 46% before. It shifted a little. But, it's okay. Half of my tree goes to Italy. The other half goes to France and England by way of Quebec and Colonial America.

My dad tested and he is 90% southern Italian. My ancestors came from San Pietro a Maida in Cantazaro and Gesualdo in Campania.

The percentages are lower on various sites. But, I tend to go with Ancestry the most as they have the largest sample size.

Anyway, I hope people join! Ciao!
answered by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (150k points)
Hi, Chris.  My dad's parents immigrated from Southern Italy, near your ancestors.  I'm wondering how much luck I'd have finding my Italian ancestors past my grandparents' parents?  That seems to be thin info from what I've seen of my cousins' results.  

My mother's relatives are all French by way of Canada except for a couple random English, Swiss, or Italian people way, way back. I seem to have a much easier time finding the old records for them than I do my father's Italian ancestors.  Thanks, Marianne
Hey, Marianne! =D You might be surprised at what you can find regarding your Italian ancestors. I had a lot of luck. A third cousin researched my paternal grandmother's side. Whereabouts in Southern Italy are they from?

Oh and speaking of French, it would seem you and I are connected on the Quebecois side. Pretty cool, no? 6th cousin 3x removed. Wow.

The trick with Italian records is finding the town. From there you can either contact the commune office or look for the records at a family center. That's the first step. I've also been in contact with cousins in Italy.

Hey, cousin!  

My grandparents came from San Ferdinando de Foggia, Puglia, Italy. What I call the "ankle" area of the "boot".  I know several people in the family have done some genealogy work but I was finding a lot of fun stuff I don't know that they have. However, once I get back a generation in Italy, the pickings are slim. I wasn't even sure where/how to go about researching there so thanks for the great tips.  

+6 votes
About 47% Italian and 3% Greek - my paternal grandfather was from the west coast of Italy in Calabria and my paternal grandmother was from the Adriatic Seaside Alberobello near Bari.
answered by Angela Grassi G2G5 (5.7k points)
+5 votes
According to the paper trail, yes my great grandfather gave his birthplace as Italy in both the 1901 and 1911 UK censuses, sadly without giving any more detail about precisely where in Italy. My father and uncle also both remember their Italian grandfather and believe he was from Northern Italy (Turin and Milan have both been mentioned).

However according to AncestryDNA the answer is no, as none of us (myself, my father, his brother and his 2 sisters) have any DNA classed as Italian. My father's generation do average about 9% of DNA classed as French, so I take some comfort from the comment on the AncestryDNA Ethnicity FAQ page that specifically says "people with roots in Northern Italy may have a surprising amount of France in their results because France was in control of Northern Italy for centuries".

Confusingly, based on exactly the same raw DNA results uploaded to MyHeritage, they estimate that I have 14.3% of Italian DNA and another 6.8% of Iberian DNA, whereas my father has no Italian or Iberian DNA but does have 21.9% of Balkan DNA! Guess that just goes to show this is still an emerging scientific field!
answered by Paul Masini G2G6 Mach 2 (27.5k points)
Test with 23andMe -- the ethnicity estimates are generally better on that one, and you might get to the bottom of this mystery.
+2 votes
By paper trail and DNA, not a drop, sadly.
answered by Pip Sheppard G2G6 Pilot (654k points)
Don't worry. You're Italian by association. =D
Haha! That’ll work just fine!
Awesome! =D
+5 votes

I'm half Italian. The other half is German, Irish, English, and Welsh.

According to Ancestry:

  • 42% Sicilian
  • 25% England/Wales/NW Europe
  • 18% France
  • 11% Germanic Europe
  • 2% Ireland/Scotland
  • 1% Norway
  • 1% Sardinia
23 and Me:
  • 46% Italy
  • 15% French/German
  • 14% United Kingdom/Ireland
  • 2% Iberian
  • 1% Balkan
  • Less than 1% Balkan and Eastern European
  • 12% Broadly Northwestern European
  • 7% Broadly Southern European
  • 3% Broadly European
I submitted my Ancestry raw data to My Heritage:
  • 51% Greek
  • 6% Italian
  • 27% Irish/Scottish/Welsh
  • 6% Scandinavian
  • 2% Ashkenazi Jewish
  • 7% North African
  • 1% West African
I suspect all the small percentages are from one of my German lines. They must have moved around a lot. One is through my grandmother and the other my grandfather.
answered by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (227k points)
+4 votes
I would say so. 50% of me is Italian and the other 50% is Polish/German, although I've never done DNA testing.

https://www.wikitree.com/genealogy/Santoro-Family-Tree-144

On the Italian side, 3 out of my 4 great grandparents are from around Bari in Puglia (one was a foundling but was born in Modugno). The other great grandparent's family is from Termini Imerese in Sicily. I've been able to trace most of the Italian lines back to the mid-late 1700s just through the Stato Civile records.
answered by Frank Santoro G2G6 (8.8k points)
If you haven't done DNA testing you might be in for a surprise. My Dad always told me that his mother was 100% German, yet after having my DNA done and tracing ancestors it was not true. The majority of her ancestors were from France and I have only traced a few German relatives that connect to her.
+4 votes
25%... my maternal grandfather's entire family came from Termini Imerese (Sicily) going back to the 1700s.
answered by Bill Sirinek G2G Crew (900 points)
+2 votes
Yes, I am 17% Italian as indicated by 23 & me.. My Mother and her parents were born in Parma, Italy in the town of Berceto. My grandmother Rosalia Raccasi first arrived in the U.S.A in 1912, returned to Italy in 1925 where she married my grandfather Marco Iasoni returning to the USA that same year.
answered by
+3 votes
I'm actually surprised, having grown up in a very Italian/Irish area outside of Boston going back through the major migrations.

Ireland & Scotland 72%

England, Wales and NorthWestern Europe 28%

I would have been sure that somewhere along the line a southern or eastern european would have weasled their way in to the family, based upon the makeup of the community I (and my parents, grandparents and great grandparents) lived in.
answered by Scott McGrath G2G Crew (870 points)
I don't know how it works in Boston, but I've been told by old New Yorkers that in NYC, a lot of the more common ethnic mixes resulted in people being crammed into the same slums and tenements. Jews and Italians ended up in the same slums when they started arriving in NYC in big numbers, and so did Italians and Irish. Italian + Jew and Italian  + Irish are very common combinations in NYC.

My friend is Greek-American from Boston, and he told me that intermarriage for them was very rare until the last generation or two. His mother's best friend married a Jewish man and her family disowned her and all that sort of thing. They were serious enough about it that my friend's grandfather actually picked his grandmother out of a sort of "eligible Greek babe" catalogue in... the 1910s?... and paid to have her and her mother shipped to Boston from Greece (of course the girl couldn't travel alone in those days!).
+3 votes
Not that I know of in my recent ancestry, although I got 0.3% on 23andme which could mean something. I did find Italian surnames way further back although I need to confirm the accuracy of some of the trees I've been looking at.
answered by
+3 votes
Yes, I do. Extensively on my father's side. di Franza, Coluccio, Gagliardi, Tretola .... just to name a few. Families are from communes near Naples, notably in Benevento and Avellino.
answered by Kim de Franza G2G Crew (480 points)
+3 votes
Yes, 25%. My mother's grandparents came to America in 1868 settling in San Francisco. They were from Genoa - Pentema and Carasco.
answered by Louise Yerkes G2G Crew (900 points)
+4 votes
Mi bisabuelo materno era Italiano; nacido en Roma.
answered by
+2 votes
I have Mediterranean and Iberian. Not Italian specifically, though.  I didn't even know about those roots until I took a DNA test. But, I'm adopted and so was my biological father's father - so that's probably where it came from.
answered by Alicia Taylor G2G Crew (770 points)
+3 votes
My DNA from My Heritage says I'm  only 11% Italian. I wad always under the influence from family that it was higher, more like 30 or 40 %.I  still want to know what part of Italy my ancestors are from.
answered by Lori Powers G2G Crew (450 points)
According to your tree, 11% should be exactly right. You have one Italian great-grandfather, right? Henry Ferussi. At least, no one else's name looks Italian on your tree. So, assuming he was pure Italian, his child was half, her child was approximately 25%, and you are therefore about 12% Italian. Well within the margin of error.

More people could help you look up your ancestor if his profile was open rather than locked. That being said:

1917-1918 World War I Draft Registration ( "United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6JV-2LL : 13 March 2018), Henry Ferrusi, 1917-1918; citing Oneida County no 1, New York, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,818,603. ) gives his birth date as 19 Mar 1893. At this point, he isn't married, and is financially supporting his parents in Italy and his sister in the US. His current address at this point is 314 Canal Street, Rome, Oneida County, NY. He was working for the Rome Metal Company as a laborer.

In 1925 ( "New York State Census, 1925," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KSWJ-6JW : 8 November 2014), Enrico Ferrusi, Rome Ward 03, A.D. 03, E.D. 01, Oneida, New York, United States; records extracted by Ancestry and images digitized by FamilySearch; citing p. 20, line 45, New York State Archives, Albany. On Ancestry. ) he was living with his wife Nora and children in Rome, Oneida County, New York. His name here was given as Enrico, which was probably his Italian-born name. At this point, he was still an alien, and in the census it he said he had been in the US for 20 years, which would make the year of his arrival around 1905.

In 1940 he was living alone during the census in Milford, Otsego County, New York. ( "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KQY8-D4W : 15 March 2018), Henry Ferrusy, Milford, Milford Town, Otsego, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 39-24, sheet 6B, line 56, family 164, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 2716. ) He had been a laborer at a saw mill. His residence, per the census, in 1935 was Oriskany Falls, Oneida County, New York.

The Utica Daily Press, Thursday, May 26, 1960 edition on page... 26?... gives an obituary for him as he had just died the day before, that he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Patsy Ferrusi, and that he was buried in Cedarville Cemetery. (Another source: "New York State Health Department, Genealogical Research Death Index, 1957-1963," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2CHJ-HZ2 : 11 February 2018), Henry Ferrusi, 25 May 1960; citing Death, , file #34179, New York State Department of Health—Vital Records Section, Albany. ) The Herkimer NY Evening Telegram edition from Thursday, May 26, 1960 also gives an account of his death on page 5. It confirms his birth name is actually Enrico. His death certificate number is 34179, so you could actually order his death certificate from New York State, which should have more information on it. It's USD $22, at least, to order it though.

Based off of this site, it is most likely to find the Ferrusi family in the region of Abruzzo in Italy. The records for L'Aquila from Sezione di Avezzano and Sezione di Sulmona are not online yet, but if you ever go in person or hire a genealogist from Italy, you have the best chances of finding him there.

Please add the provided sources to the locked profile for this ancestor of yours, along with the research notes about where he might be from, so that going forward you have something to refer back to.

Thanks so very much. !!
Tgsnj you so very much. This is more than we have ever known. I really appreciate the help.
Thank you so very much. This is more than we have ever known. I really appreciate the help.
+3 votes
I thought I did, according to Ancestry.com, supposedly 16% Italian, Spanish and Greek. Now, nothing. I am beginning to not really put any stock in DNA tests because they keep shifting my locations. Now I am 1% Benin/Togo,1% Ivory Coast/Ghana, 1% Spain, and 2% Cameroon/Congo and Southern Bantu people. The same percentage as my supposed Eastern European roots!! I really don't get it. All I ever wanted to know was the origins of my last name on my father's side (because it was apparently changed), and who my grandfather was on my mother's side, but the answers are elusive.
answered by Pat Highton G2G Rookie (290 points)
I have had no genetic testing, however first hand knowledge of my immigrant great grandmother (nee Moriconi, her mother was Guidugli from Calomini, near Lucca) , who lived with my mom, her brother, and my grandparents, and her immigrant brothers, plus her deceased Italian husband (Dubini from Gravedone), I am happy to report I am Facebook friends with both Moriconi and Dubini relatives who still reside in Italy. If you haven't already, try to find your Italian relatives on Facebook. They email me photos of gravestones.

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