Top 20 Italian Surnames in Italy. Top 10 Surnames in US. Last names, family names,

Top 20 Italian Surnames

Have you ever wondered what are the most common Italian surnames and where your family’s surname came from? I know I have and as a matter of fact, I thought my surname “Modica” came from the town of Modica in Sicily but I was wrong. If we had come from the town of Modica our surname would have been “da or di Modica” meaning from or of Modica. I can only guess that one of my ancestors changed it many years ago when they moved out of Modica.


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Where do Italian Surnames Come From?

Italian surnames can come from anywhere like geographical areas, family occupations, descriptive nicknames, or patronymics. Here are a few examples:

  • Geographical = Leonardo da Vinci means “Vinci” which is a small town in Tuscany
  • Occupation = The artist Botticelli whose brother was a pawnbroker was called “Il Botticello” or “Little Barrel”
  • Nicknames = Giuliano Bugiardini  means “Little Liars” or maybe they were good storytellers
  • Patronymic = Painter Piero Cosimo means “Peter son of Cosimo”
  • Matronymic = Painter Piero della Francesca means “Peter son of Francesca”

Other Surnames like Torregrossa mean “Big Tower,” Bella means “Beautiful” or one of my favorites Bonmatiro means “good husband.” As you can see Italian Surnames can come from anywhere or be after anything. There were no rules set in stone.

On a sad note, a name like Esposito means “To place outside or exposed,” Orfanelli which means “Little orphan” or Trovato/Trovatelli which means “Found little foundling” were given to those children abandoned and left on church steps or orphanages.

A Little History

Italians didn’t use Surnames until the 15th century when the “upper class” started using them. All Italians started using them after The Council of Trent around 1545 – 1563. The Council emphasized the need to record birthdates, baptisms, marriages, and deaths.

Top 20 Italian Surnames in Italy. Top 10 Surnames in US. Last names, family names,
photo credit: Italianismo


Top 20 Italian Surnames

Here is a list of the top 20 Surnames according to the Italian Government. The numbers are in thousands. And just in case you’re wondering… there are 2,120 Modicas in all of Italy!

  1. Rossi 45.7k
  2. Russo 31.1k
  3. Ferrari 26.2k
  4. Esposito 23.2k
  5. Bianchi 18.7k
  6. Romano 17.9k
  7. Colombo 17.6k
  8. Ricci 15.1k
  9. Marino 13.4k
  10. Greco 13.3k
  11. Bruno 13.1k
  12. Gallo 12.9k
  13. Conti 12.7k
  14. DeLuca 12.6k
  15. Mancini 12.4k
  16. Costa 12.2k
  17. Giordano 12.2k
  18. Rizzo 12.1k
  19. Lombardi 11.6k
  20. Moretti 10.9k


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Top 20 Surnames in the United States

Here are the top 10 Surnames in the United States according to the 2010 U.S. Census report. The numbers are in millions. Again… there are 2,655 Modicas living in the United States!

  1. Smith 2.4M
  2. Johnson 1.9M
  3. Williams 1.5M
  4. Brown 1.4M
  5. Jones 1.4M
  6. Miller 1.1M
  7. Davis 1.0M
  8. Garcia .9M
  9. Rodriguez .8M
  10. Wilson .8M
a list of popular Italian surnames,


  1. Italian surnames seem so romantic compared with most of the US surnames. Jones, Brown, Smith — ha ha! It helps to have a distinctive first name in the US.

      1. I learned I’m a Modica, too! My Dad was adopted by his step father, so for years he thought he was born a Nelsen, but we’ve later learned biologically we’re Modicas! Kind of cool to learn something new.

        1. OMG! That’s so amazing, Danielle! From a recent blog post, Gary just found a cousin living in Las Vegas… well she found us actually! Wonder if we are related? We’ve been to Modica and made a wonderful friend there. Gary’s family though is from Licodia Eubea, a town not far away. The town we are now from too with our Italian birth certificates! I think that is so awesome to find out! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. I’m about 50% Italian so this was a super interesting read! I wish I had an Italian last name they’re so much more fun.

  3. I find this kind of thing incredibly fascinating. My family are big on researching genealogy so it’s always interesting to see how names and place names evolve over time

  4. This is so interesting! I am an Italian American and have heard of a lot of these names. My last name is supposed to be Italian, but it was changed to an English name when my great grandfather came to the USA.

    1. That happened quite a lot, Taylor! When going for citizenship we had to have some of Gary’s papers changed as his father’s name was “Americanized” and it got a bit crazy!

  5. Such an interesting read. My partner is 2nd gen Canadian with Sicilian heritage. We’ve never encountered anyone else with his surname, Amormino. Now I’m wondering how many other Amormino’s are out there!

  6. What a fascinating post! I love learning about family history and the history of names. Italian names always sound really interesting! We don’t see that many of them in the UK. Where I’m from, my surname is very geographical. Only an hour down the road and it is completely unheard of! I like having an unusual surname but it is a pain having to spell it any time I talk to someone!

  7. This is so interesting! I’m also really jealous of your last name – with Modica being one of the most amazing places I’ve visited! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Love the comment, Charlie! We loved visiting Modica and I was so bummed when I got my dual citizenship because I have to use my maiden name! That was such a funny story. We’ll be telling it shortly – it’s a secret for now that we hope to reveal soon! Subscribers will hear it first (hint-hint)

  8. I like your surname cloud in the shape of Italy. I had an Italian exchange student but her surname didn’t make the top 20. Thanks for the explanation on where some of the surnames come from.

    1. Can’t seem to find enough info on the name Monte Longo. My father’s side has an Italian background. Wish I could find more.

      1. Are you just looking for sentimental reasons or for dual citizenship? Both are important, please don’t get me wrong, but we have some resources you might try depending on the purpose you are looking.

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