Learn about the meanings of the common Italian surnames.

In countries around the world, there are specific meanings to the last names of the people who dwell there—and in a country with a long, rich history like Italy, those associations go back to medieval times. Whether you are a lover of Italian food, come from a family of Italian descent, or a lover of Italian art history, and literature, we are sure you will find this list of 100 Italian last names quite interesting.

Generally speaking, Italian surnames end in a vowel. In early Medieval Italian history, people only had a first name. During the Renaissance, parish priests were required to register parishioners by their given name as well as a surname to prevent marriages between blood relatives. Thus began the process of bestowing surnames on Italian families.

A majority of Italian last names are patronymic, meaning they originate from the male head of the household.

Family names based on geographical locations or topological areas were also popular, as were nicknames derived from physical traits or personal characteristics, and surnames stemming from a man’s occupation.

The part of Italy where a person lived also had much to do with how their surname was spelled. If you come from a family of Italian heritage and your surname ends in  -o, your ancestors came from southern Italy, whereas last names ending in -a or -i typically came from the country’s northern regions. Italian last names can also have many spelling variations, all depending on the specific region where the name originated and that area’s dialect.

The origins and meanings and spelling variations of Italian last names are really quite fascinating, and we just touched upon the tip of the iceberg with this list of 100 Italian last names. Some of these Italian last names can be used as a first name for your baby, give you some inspiration on what to call your pet, help you name a book character or even an Italian restaurant.