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Surnames and Their Origins – April 2021


In this issue we deviate from our regular alphabetic format and highlight the surnames associated with springtime culture, in keeping with our front-page article. What more appropriate way than to start with the surname Primavera, which means spring?

PRIMAVERA – This surname surprisingly appears in the vital statistics files in 18 regions. It is most prevalent in Abruzzo, where 25 percent reside; Lazio, where 21 percent reside; and Marche, where 12 percent reside; and least in Sardinia. The two regions that show no presence are Trentino-Alto Adige in the Tyrolian Alps and the Aosta Valley.

FRANCAVILLA – This surname is a Southern Italian habitational surname from any of various places named with this word (from franc “free (of taxes)” + villa “place” or “settlement”); for example, Francavilla Marittima (Cosenza), Francavilla Angitola
(Vibo Valentia), Francavilla al Mare (Chieti), Francavilla d’Ete (Ascoli), Francavilla in Sinni (Potenza), Francavilla di Sicilia (Messina, Sicily). It is present in 19 regions with the highest number of families with the surname in Puglia. It is not present in Trentino-Alto Adige.
VIVALDI – The surname Vivaldi was first found in Treviso, anciently known as Tarvisium, a town in Venetia, capital of the province of Treviso. The cathedral of San Pietro is notable and dates back to 1141. It is in the classical style with seven domes, and houses works by many notable painters and sculptors. In those ancient times, only persons of rank, the podesta, clergy, city officials, army officers, artists and landowners were entered into the records. To be recorded at this time, at the beginning of recorded history, was of itself a great distinction and indicative of noble ancestry.

PAUSINI – Singer Laura Pausini may be popular, but her surname isn’t. It’s present in only five regions: Lazio, Umbria, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardia, and Piemonte. Emilia-Romagna has the largest presence and Piemonte the smallest.

VILLA – This surname is spelled the same but pronounced slightly differently in Italian and Spanish. This surname is derived from the Latin word “villa,” which originally meant a house or estate, but later came to denote a village. Thus, as a surname, Villa no doubt was used to describe “someone from the village.” It is a widespread surname that appears in the vital statistics records in all 20 regions.

PIZZI – The surname Pizzi is derived from the Italian word “piccino,” which means “small.” Early origins of the Pizzi family date back to 1314 with Marco Picinini, the first of a long line of Picinini Senators. Picinini soon evolved into a number of variations, among which we find the surname Pizzi. It has a strong presence among Italian surnames having a presence in all 20 regions. It is most prevalent in Lombardia and least in the Aosta Valley.

In the May issue we’ll resume with our regular format and Italian surnames beginning with the letter “P.”

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