This issue’s surnames column resumes with surnames beginning with the letter R.
ROSSI – This surname derives from the nickname “rosso,” meaning red, to indicate someone with red hair. Although few Italians have red hair, it is a popular surname. One might say that it is the much like the name Smith in the United States. Therefore, no question as to how many regions one would find this surname registered with the Bureaus of Vital Statistics, all 20 regions. It is most prevalent in Lombardia and least present in Val d’Aosta. Variations: Rosso, Rossa, Russi, Russo, Ruggiu, Rubiu, Rosselli, Rossello, Rossellini, Rissiello, Rossillo, Rossetti, Rossetto, Rossettini, Rossitti, Rossitto, Rossini, Rossino, Rossotti, Rossotto, Rossini, Rossone, Rossuto, Russello, Russino, Russotti, Russotto, Russiani, Russolillo.
ROVERE – This surname derives from “rovere,” to indicate a place with oaks. It is not a very common name, but is found in all 20 regions, albeit is small numbers. It is most prevalent in Piemonte and least in Molise. Variations: Roveri, Roverani, Roveratto, Roverati.
RUFFINI – This surname derives the first name Ruffino or Rufino, in use since the 5th century. The Latin first name Rufinus derives from the Roman family name “Rufus” from “ruber,” meaning red (hair or beard). It is not a very common name, but is present in 18 regions, albeit in small numbers. The two regions that do not have this surname registered are Basilicata and Calabria. Variations: Ruffino, Rufini, Rufino, Ruffinelli, Ruffinoni, Ruffinengo.
RUGGERI – This surname derives from the first name Ruggiero, introduced in Southern Italy after the Norman domination. It comes from the first name Hrodger, consisting of “hroth” meaning glory and
“gaira” meaning lance. It is present in all 20 regions. It is most prevalent in Puglia and least found in Val d’Aosta. Variations: Ruggiero, Ruggieri, Rugieri, Roggeri, Roglieri, Roggerone, Ruggeri, Ruggiero.
RULLO – This surname derives from the first name Rollo of German origin, imported in Italy by the Normans. It is present in 19 regions. It is most prevalent in Campania and least found in Friuli Venezia-Giulia. It is not present in Val d’Aosta. Variations: Rulli, Rolli.
RUSSO – This surname derives from the dialect word “ruscetto, ruscetta,” meaning man or woman with red hair or complexion that is linked to the ginger hair or a reddish complexion of an ancestor. It is among the most popular Italian surnames. It is present in all 20 regions. It is mostly present in Campania and least found in Val d’Aosta. Variations: Ruscitti, Ruscitto.
RUSTICI – This surname derives from the Latin word “rusticus,” meaning who lives in the country, farmer. It is registered with vital statistics in only 14 regions. Variations: Rustichelli.
RIZIERO – This surname derives from the first name Risio that is an abbreviation of Riziero or from Rizzo or Riccio, to indicate someone who has curly hair. While the surname is distantly “related” to the very popular surname Rizzo, this particular surname is sparse, to say the least. It is merely found in nine regions. Variations: RISIO.
In the next issue, we explore Italian surnames that start with the letter S.
You can research your surname on these two websites: