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Italian Baby Names: Popularity and trends

Italian baby names

By Romina Angeleri

Nora Ephron was once asked to write her autobiography in six words. Here it is: “Secret to life, marry an Italian.” Whether or not you follow her advice, you don’t need to go all that way in order to give an Italian name to your baby!

Italian names often have layered meanings and a lot of romance, which makes them a great choice for naming your baby. At the same time – and for much the same reasons – searching for a good Italian name can be tricky. Names that sound perfectly fine to American ears may not be real options in Italy, if, for example, they might sound old-fashioned or carry strong regional connotations. Take Teodora: here’s a great-sounding, but also ancient-sounding name that virtually no one in Italy has chosen for decades. Or Calogero – a once-popular name that has been out of fashion for quite a while.

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Until recently, Italian names–particularly for boys– have rarely ventured outside their own neighborhoods, but lately we’ve seen several popping up in the celebrisphere—though usually, if not always, used by celebs with Italian roots.  There have been at least four Mateo/Matteos, two Roccos, two Romeos, Annabeth Gish’s Enzo, Ricky Martin’s Valentino, and Jill Hennessey’s Marco Gianni.

These are names that have all been pretty firmly assimilated, but there are loads more undiscovered rhythmic and romantic nomi belli that could be considered—a few of which have already gained entrance via their female forms.  Here are the Nameberry Picks of 15 of the best underused Italian boys’ names.

Alessioif Alessandro feels a bit too bulky, how about this more compact, equally handsome short form?

Amatoit means beloved, darling one—as loving and heartfelt as the beginning-to-be-used Valentino

Bello –as handsome as Bella is beautiful, and rarely heard outside the Italian community.

BrandoYes, people will thinking this is in honor of great screen actor Marlon (who wasn’t Italian), but it is actually a streamlined form of Brandano

Flaviopronounced FLAH-vee-o, from an old Roman family name meaning fair, golden—a flavorful name that would be perfect for a blond bambino

Gianluca—the Italians are great name smooshers: other appealing combos include Giancarlo, Gianfranco, Gianpaolo, Pierluigi

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