Italy Project Name Field Guidelines

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Surnames/tags: Italy, Italian Roots Name Fields
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WikiTree Guidance on Name Fields



For centuries Italy has had certain naming traditions and even a holiday to commemorate a person's name. On WikiTree, we strive to follow the traditions, what they are, and their implications in genealogical research.

The Italy project, like many other nation-based projects, aims to use the name people were born with and the names that person would have likely used during their lifetime.

If there are any questions about the contents of this page, feel free to message anyone in the Italy Project, post on the g2g forum or discuss the issues in the Google Group.

The basics

  • The first male is named after his paternal grandfather.
  • The second male is named after his maternal grandfather.
  • The first female is named after her paternal grandmother.
  • The second female is named after her maternal grandmother.

Subsequent children are named after parents, relative or a saint. There are exceptions to the rule as not every Italian family follows that tradition.


Proper First Name

Multiple first names were and are normal in Italy and all of them should be added in the Proper First Name field.

Preferred First Name

Preferred First Name can be something such as Francescoantonio, Maria Vittoria or just one of the multiple first names. Preferred first name was not necessarily the first of the multiple proper first names.

Middle Name

As Italians don't have middle names, it is a good idea to leave the middle name field empty unless the person is of Italian descent and was born in another country such as the United States. Middle names should only be used if there is documented evidence in a birth record. If he or she has a name such as "Francescoantonio", it should be treated as one whole name.

Current Last Name

In Italy, women keep their birth surname from birth to death. It is been a tradition going back centuries and even today Italian women normally keep the last name they were born with. When they come to another country that has a different approach, they sometimes assimilate, use their birth surname or a hyphenated last name.

On WikiTree, it is customary to use the birth surname in the surname field and use the married name as "other last name" and not as "current last name".

Other Last Names


The suffix field is limited to ten characters and will appear on the profile after the display name. It is generally accepted that are only to be added if it is an essential part of a person's name be it "junior" or otherwise. They should only be used if documents referred to them with their suffix. If a person had more than one suffix or a prefix, they should be mentioned in the biography.

In Italy, suffixes tend to end in "i" or have "di" before a surname. Some notable examples of this include "Leonardo da Vinci" which means "Leonardo of Vinci". Sometimes suffixes refer to the person's place of birth.

The practice came about due to the medieval Italian habit of identifying families by the names of their ancestors in the plural tense. In time, the middle "of the" was dropped and the letter "i" was put at the end of the last name. For example, "Filippo Ormanno" would therefore be known as "Filippo Ormanni".

Families like the Medici opted to retain the possessive portions of their surnames.

-ello/illo/etto/ino (diminutive "little"), e.g., Bernardello, Vettorello, Iannuccillo, Bortoletto, Bernardino, Ravellino, Verdino -one/ne (augmentative "big"), e.g., Mangione, Bellone, Capone, Pastene, Mantone, Vallone -accio/azzo/asso (pejorative[11]), e.g., Boccaccio, Terrazzo, Varasso


  • Veneto: -asso, -ato/ati, and consonants (l, n, r); -on: Bissacco, Zoccarato, Cavinato, Brombal, Bordin, Meneghin, Perin, Vazzoler, Peron, Francescon, Zanon, Fanton
  • Sicily: -aro, -isi and "osso": Cavallaro, Cherisi, Rosi, Rosso (Sicily, Piedmont and Veneto)
  • Lombardy and Piemont: -ago/ghi (of Celtic derivation), -engo/enghi (of Germanic derivation): Salmoiraghi, Ornaghi, Vernengo, Martinengo, Giordanengo, Lambertenghi
  • Lombardy: -ate/ati/atti: Lunati, Bonatti, Moratti, Orsatti
  • Piedmont: -ero, -audi, -asco,-zzi, -anti, -ini: Ferrero, Rambaudi, Comaco, Bonazzi, Santi, Baldovini
  • Friuli: -otti/utti and -t: Bortolotti, Pascutti, Codutti, Rigonat, Ret
  • Tuscany: -ai and -aci/ecci/ucci: Bollai, Balducci, Martaci
  • Sardinia: -u, -as and -is, derived from the Sardinian language: Pusceddu, Cadeddu, Schirru, Marras, Argiolas, Floris, Melis, Abis
  • Calabria: -ace: Storace, Versace
  • Campania: -iello: Borriello, Aiello, Manganiello
  • Abruzzo: -us, -is and -iis that stem from traditional Latin names: Fidelibus, De Sanctis, De Laurentiis


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You are absolutely right. That is perfect. As soon as I am done inputing all the documents I have I will be sure to change the last names so they conform to the customs.
posted by Lance Martin
edited by Lance Martin
A fellow wiki tree user pointed out this page to me re women's last names after marriage. Though it was not common to change the last name, it did happen at least in the area my family was from .. see https://www.wikitree.com/photo/jpg/Merlo-76-1

Regardless of that, as we know, in many of these small towns, all of the names are identical. I am sure 30 percent of the boys and girls in my towns are Giovanni or Maria. The number of surnames is just as small. This means I can pull up a list of Maria Martinucci's and get a long list of matches on wikitree. In order to help me enter information from church and civil documents, sometimes I do not know their exact birthdate. I have to go on age and spouse name. Wikitree unfortunately does not display the other last names, so I have to resort to putting the spouses name in the married name field.

I have asked for this to be changed, or the current name field to be renamed Spouses name, but nothing has happened. Thus, I continue to put the spouses name in the current last name field for both men and women so that they can be chosen off the wikitree Find list.

posted by Lance Martin
Lance, the church census record you posted doesn't mean that the wife's last name was changed after marriage. It just means that the church census books kept track of families by the father's surname. The example you posted is "Domenica Lisignoli, born Martinucci, widow of Andrea." She's listed that way because there is a child from her marriage as part of that household. Many pre-unification church records are similar; they sometimes don't show the wife's birth surname after marriage (except maybe the marriage record of a child).

But Domenica's death record that you linked to in her profile lists her as Domenica Martinucci, so her surname wasn't changed.

We're sorry that the search function causes you problems, but entering the surname of a woman's spouse as a "current last name" when it's not supported by records or known tradition isn't a solution.

They are to only be used when the Italian woman (usually an immigrant) has moved to a country where the wife takes the name of the husband.

posted by Chris Ferraiolo
edited by Chris Ferraiolo
"I continue to put the spouses name in the current last name field for both men and women so that they can be chosen off the wikitree Find list." Please don't do that, Lance, I think it would cause a lot of trouble in the database if you put a "married name" in a man's record. Remember it's not just your tree, it's our tree. These kind of cultural/technical issues can be improved, but not by doing whatever we think it's easier for us. Thanks!
posted by Cristina Corbellani
Saying it is a problem and it actually being a problem are two different things. If I come across a profile where it actually becomes a problem I will let you know. I know that with the number of identical names in the villages I am creating, adding a spouses name saves many duplicates.. Duplicates actually being a bigger problem.
posted by Lance Martin

I've been cataloging births in the town of San Pietro a Maida and I've come across many people, man and woman alike, with the same name. How do I prevent duplicates? I use the sources and actual birth dates. A Caterina Butruce born in 1825 is going to be a different person than the Caterina Butruce born five years later if you look at the document. Sometimes they might even be siblings because the earlier one died young. No duplicates will be made in that case, I assure you.

There will not be a problem. Period. You only create a problem if there are no sources and exact dates.

posted by Chris Ferraiolo

Categories: Italy Project