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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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Elisabeth Wilborn, creator of one of our absolute favorite blogs, You Can’t Call It “It,” introduces us to the wide world of great Italian girls’ names beyond Isabella. Elisabeth, a writer, artist, and mom, lives in Brooklyn, New York.

You don’t have to be Italian to fawn all over Isabella.

She’s lyrical, historical, and even practical with nicknames Bella and Izzy at the ready.  It’s no surprise that she and cohorts Olivia and Sophia would be storming up the charts, now assuming spots 1, 3, and 4.  But are these the only options for little girls if you want to honor your Italian heritage?

Let’s take a look at what people are choosing in New Jersey.  As housewife fame has evidenced, they’re heavy on Italian pride.

Top picks for the state include:

Adriana (#64), Adrianna (#95), Angelina (#30), Ariana (#46), Arianna (#43),
Gabriella (12), Gianna (#11), Julia (#19- Giulia in Italy), Isabella (#1), Juliana (#49), Julianna (#63), Maria (#65), Natalia (#72), Olivia (#2), Sophia (#3), Valentina (#92), Victoria (#22- Vittoria in Italy).

Italian-American mothers often lament that all the good names are taken by their family and friends.

I assure you the options are vast!

If you’ll be summering with Nonna in Toscana, you may want a choice that is both well loved there and reads undeniably Italian here (rankings are from Italy in 2008): Alessia (#8), Chiara (#5), Federica (#21), Francesca (#9), Giada
(#13), Giorgia (#6), Ludovica (#27)Ilaria (#25), Vittoria (#26).

Italy also has a few popular names that wouldn’t necessarily scream Carbonara: Alice (#10), Anna (#11), Beatrice (#18), Elisa (#12), Emma (#14), Greta (#14), Marta (#29),  Martina (#3), Matilde (#15), Nicole (#30)Noemi (#19), Sara (#4).  Note Alice and Beatrice are pronounced ah-LEE-che and be-ah-TREE-che.

A triumvirate of recent Cosimas, Claudia Schiffer’s child, Sofia Coppola’s baby, and a Windsor 22nd in line to the throne, remind us that there are still other genuine Italian names to cull from the history books.  Some are quite antique, but just as we have “old lady chic” here, so too do they in Italy.

I urge you to take a chance on an ancient beauty:

Agnella

Alessandra

Anastasia

Antonia

Artemisia

Aurelia

Aurora

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