Just as there is tremendous variety in the color, scent, texture and type of spices found in Istanbul Turkey’s Spice Bazaar so, too, is there an almost limitless number of different names in the world.

Map of where the Andreoli family lived in Italy

This map indicates that the Andreoli family lived in northern Italy as well as Calabria where my Nana Caterina was born.

What is the most common Italian name for girls?

a). Francesca  ___          b). Caterina  ___          c). Maria  ___

d). Anna  ___          e). Margherita ___

 The correct answer will be given at the end of this blog.

Names play an important role in genealogical research. Those chosen can reflect ancestral lineage, cultural heritage, family dynamics, religious beliefs, moral values, popular culture, a family’s place of residence or a long-held occupation or craft. Naming traditions, however, can impede proper identification as the following example aptly illustrates.

Italian Naming Traditions

a). First born males are named after their paternal grandfather.

b). First born females are named after their paternal grandmother.

c). Second born males are named after their maternal grandfather.

d). Second born females are named after their maternal grandmother.

e). Subsequent children may be named after their parents or other relatives.

A Case Study In Confusion!

Giovanni Laguzzi   marries  Silvia   Farnese

They have three sons:

Stefano Alessandro Paolo

Their sons each name their son and daughter according to tradition as follows:

                                    Giovanni Laguzzi            Giovanni Laguzzi            Giovanni Laguzzi

Silvia Laguzzi              Silvia Laguzzi               Silvia Laguzzi


Needless to say, trying to assign the proper person to the correct generation in the above family tree would be a difficult task! Understanding naming traditions can definitely be a key to unlocking family mysteries.

Finding Your Name

Learning about the town or area where your ancestors once lived might provide details that inform you about their lifestyle as well as what society was like at the time. Surnames are often location specific and, in these instances, finding the place and acquiring information will be easy. Leonardo da Vinci is a good example as he was born at Vinci, a small town in the region of Florence, Italy.

Tourism, Travel and Traditions in Italy.

This is a great website for those interested in discovering where families sharing their surnames are located in Italy. There is no charge to access this information and it is simple to access.

  1. Go to www.gens.info.
  2. Click on the surname option at the top of the homepage.
  3. Enter the surname you are researching.
  4. Your search will produce a map of Italy marked with circle patterns of your surname.  A legend is included in the top right corner of the map.

Where Will Your Genealogical Search Take You?

I followed the above process with respect to my Nana Caterina and entered her maiden surname “Andreoli.”  My search generated the map posted with this blog and, according to the circle patterns, told me that the majority of Andreoli families lived in northern Italy as opposed to Calabria where my Nana Caterina was born. I had never considered this possibility before but now knew that I needed to look further afield in my quest to solve Nana Caterina’s family mysteries.

How has your name influenced your genealogical research? Do you know why you were given your name? I’d welcome your comments.


is the most common name for Italian girls.

I hope you enjoy the photographs.

Istanbul Turkey’s Spice Market

There were people from all over the world in Istanbul Turkey’s Spice Market and I wonder how many of them had the same name.

Decorative stonework in Cascais Village, Portugal

Decorative stonework in Cascais Village, Portugal Like this decorative stonework in Cascais Village, Portugal, patterns are planned designs. Looking for repeated names in your family history might give you a clue as to its importance.

The Roman mosaics in the Bardo Museum

The Roman mosaics in the Bardo Museum located in Tunis, Tunisia consist of many pieces. Each one is integral to the picture as is each of the reasons we were given our name.