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Surnames and their origins


By Joseph Cannavo

BUCCELLA — This surname derives from nicknames connected to the Latin root “bucca” meaning mouth. It is not among the most popular of Italian surnames, but is nonetheless recorded in the vital statistic offices in 16 of Italy’s 20 regions. The heaviest concentration is in the Abruzzo region. Variations: BUCCARELLI, BUCCHI, BUCCI, BUCCO, BUCCOLINI.

BUFFONE — Families with this surname may have had ancestors that were circus clowns because this surname is derived from nicknames derived from buffone, “clown.” Again, it is not a surname that is common having a presence in only 13 regions with the heaviest concentration in the region of Calabria. Variations: BUFFONACCI, BUFFONI.

BUSSO — This surname is topographic with origins the place of Bussi in the Abruzzese province of Pescara, and/or Busso in the Molisano province of Campobasso. Despite its origins in central eastern part of the peninsula, it is mostly present in the Piedmont region up north. In total it is found in 15 regions with Veneto following Piedmont with the number of families with this surname. Variations: BUSSI.

CACCIATORE —  This surname derives from the job of “hunter.” We can assume that the ancestors of the present day Cacciatore families were hunters. This surname is prevalent in 19 of Italy’s 20 regions, missing only from the region of Molise. Of the regions where it is registered with vital statistics, Sicily has the highest concentration and Sardinia the fewest. Variations: CACCIATORI.

CALABRO — As one might imagine this surname has its origins in Calabria, but has since traveled to 18 other regions. Only Molise has no record of any Calabro families residing there. Another curiosity of this “Calabrese” surname is that it has a larger presence in Sicily than in Calabria. Calabria is second to Sicily and the least Calabro families are found in Calabria’s neighbor, Basilicata. Variations: CIALABRESE, CALABRESI.

CALASSO — From the pre-Latin word “cala,” which means steep side of the mountain, and which gave the name to many localities in Italy. It is not extremely prevalent, but does show presence in 13 regions. Of the 13 Puglia has the most confirmed number of families with this surname.

CALDERARA — This surname is derived from the job of the “calderaro,” or craftsman making pots. Again we can safely assume that some of the ancestors of the present day Calderara families were pottery craftsman. Seems though that in earlier times there were not many pottery craftsmen in southern Italy, since of the nine regions where the surname is found, only one is in the south, Sicily. Variations: CALDARARO.

CALEFFI — This surname is From the Arab word “halaf” from which derives “caliph.” It is not among the top ranking Italian surnames, but does appear in vital statistics offices in 15 regions, most heavily in Lombardia and Emilia-Romagna. Variations: CALIFFA.

CAMAIONI — This surname is possibly of a topographic origin from the town of Camaioni, in the Tuscon province of Florence. It has a presence in 14 regions, most heavily in Le Marche and Abruzzo.

CAMILLI — This surname is from the first name Camillo; name given by the Romans to the young men that started the novitiates. The surname has a presence in 18 regions with the highest number of Camilli families being in Lazio e the least in Trentino-Alto Adige. It does not appear to be listed in the vital statistics’ registers in Calabria and Basilicata. Variations: CAMILLO.

Next month: more surnames beginning with C.

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