Type to search

Surnames and Their Origins


By Joseph Cannavo

CAPANNA — This surname derives from the word meaning hut or cabin. It is found in 17 of Italy’s 20 regions, mostly in Lazio. It is not found in vital statistics records in the Aosta Valley, Basilicata or Sardinia. Variations: CAPANNOLE, CAPANNOLI, CAPANNOLO, CAPANNULE.

CAPORALE, CAPORALI — This surname derives from a medieval profession. The caporale was a head director and recruiter of farm laborers. It is a common surname found in all of Italy’s regions mostly the Campania region. The exception is the Aosta Valley.  Variations: CAPORALI.

CAPPELLETTI —  This surname comes from the Italian word for chapel. It is a very common surname found in all the country’s 20 region. It is most common in the northern region of Lombardy and least in Calabria. Variations: CAPPELLA.

CAPRA — This surname derives from the Italian word for goat. As is Cappelletti, Capra is a very common surname found in all the country’s 20 regions, and mostly in the northern region of Lombardy. It is least common in Abruzzo. Variations: CAPRILE, CAPRION.   

CAPUANA — This surname is one that derives from former inhabitants of the town of Capua, in the province of Caserta, Campania. It is now found in 12 regions, but strangely more in Sicily that Campania. Variations: CAPUANELLA, CAPUANELLO, CAPUANI.

CAPUZZI — This surname derives from the nickname from the word capo meaning head or boss. It is found in 13 Italian regions with the heaviest saturation being in the region of Lombardy. Following as a distant second is the region of Abruzzo. Variations: CAPUZZA, CAPUZZO.

CARACENI — This surname dates back to the Etruscan canton and its inhabitants known as Caraceni. It is not  a very common surname appearing in vital statistic records in only eight regions. The majority of modern-day families with this surname reside in areas that once constituted a part of Etruria. 

CARAMANICO — This surname derives from the town of Caramanico in the province of Pescara, Abruzzo. It is only found in nine regions. Abruzzo is home to the largest number of families with this surname. Variations:  CARAMANICI. 

CARDELLA — This surname possibly derives from the verb cardare, meaning treating wool, or possibly a diminutive of Riccardo, Italian for the first name Richard or from the ancient French name Richard. It is found in 18 of Italy’s regions, most in Sicily and least in the Aosta Valley. The exceptions are Umbria and Basilicata. Variations: CARDARELLA, CARDARELLI, CARDARELLO, CARDELLI, CARDELLO, CARDINI, CARDONE. 

CARLUCCI — This surname derives from the first name Carlo. It is a very common Italian surname found in all the regions except the Aosta Valley. It appears on vital statistic records most heavily in Puglia, and least in Trentino Alto-Adige. Variations: CARLI, CARLOMAGNO.

CARMINE — This is another surname derived from a first name. As a surname it is not very common. In fact it shows up sparsely in only 10 of the 20 regions. However as a first name along with the related first name, Carmelo, it is very prominent. In fact, July 16 is the very well-known and highly celebrated namesake day revered heavily by Italians and their descendents all over the world.

CASTIGLIONE — This was originally the surname of many Italian Jews who fled the Spanish inquisition into Italy, particularly Sicily. Because their native language was Castilian or in Italian, Castigliano, they were branded with Castiglione, a derivative of Castigliano. It is a very common surname found in all 20 regions with historically Sicily having the greatest number of families with that surname. Campania is a very distant second and the Aosta Valley being the region with the least amount of families with this surname.

Next month: more surnames beginning with C. 

Leave a Comment

Stay up-to-date with our free email newsletter

Keep a pulse on local food, art, and entertainment content when you join our Italian-American Herald Newsletter.