Nameberry Picks: 15 Fantastico Italian Boys’ Names

Italian names for boys

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

Luciano—because the girls can’t monopolize all those lovely light-filled Luc-names. Pronounced lu-CHA-no.

Nardobecause Leo isn’t the only nickname name for Leonardo

Orsinoit means ‘little bear’ and plays a part in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night; a romanticized Orson

RemoThis Italian form of Remus recalls the gorgeous Italian Riviera town of San Remo, home of a famous music festival and is in tune with nouveau faves Remy and Romy.

Silvio—a green sylvan name, Italian style

Urbanourban and urbane—a Papal name that could work for a city boy

Veroas Vera moves back into fashion, why not the boys’ version of this truth-defined name?

Zenzo—Though Renzo is the more common short form of Lorenzo, Zenzo is also sometimes used; it means crowned with laurels

Zosimo– a zippier Cosimo

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22 Responses to “Nameberry Picks: 15 Fantastico Italian Boys’ Names”

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ElsieK Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 12:18 am

Great names. My son’s middle name is the very old-fashioned and very Italian name Santo. He’s named after my grandfather (who, like his name, is very Italian and very old-fashioned.) Another cool old Italian name is Sebastiano- Yeno for short.

kateinindia Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 7:51 am

My Italian grandfather was Leonardo and was called Nardy by his friends. Although I think it’s too close to “nerdy” to be used.

Lola Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 9:02 am

Ooh, Luciano! Why does that remind me of a gangster? Lucky Luciano? Maybe he was a literary bad guy? Whichever, that’s my favorite Italian boys name, ever. Dante/Durante comes in a close second, though. And of course, Cosmo. I don’t care how ‘un’ zippy or flat Cosmo is, I love him so much. I’d definitely use Cosmo if the kid fits it! And I’ve got so little Italian in me. 😀

Claire Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 9:51 am

@Lola You’re thinking of Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, a real-life 20’s era Mafioso who also happened to be extremely handsome (at least the way he’s portrayed on Boardwalk Empire!)

I always thought the name Benedetto was really cool, when I first encountered it in The Count of Monte Cristo.

Chiara Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 9:57 am

I’m Italian and some of these names sound super weird and ridiculous to me. haha!
Bello?! would you seriously name your son Beautiful?!? I find Bella equally as ridiculous and that’s why you don’t find any girls named Bella in Italy. Isa is the common nickname for Isabella.
And Orsino sounds very cute…on a cartoon character. Would you name your son LittleBear?!
Zenzo and Zosimo sound made up, and I’ve never heard of Zenzo as a nickname for Lorenzo! All the Lorenzo’s I know go by Lollo or Lore, rarely Renzo.
Out of these names the only ones that are currently in use are Alessio, Alessandro, Leonardo, (with the nickname Leo, never heard of Nardo), Lorenzo, Gianluca, Flavio.
I don’t know any Brando in real life but I know there are a few celebrities that used it for theirs sons.
Luciano, Giancarlo, Gianfranco, Gianpaolo, Pierluigi, Silvio are common on older generations.
Oh and Luciano is NOT pronounced “lew-chee-AH-no”, it’s “lu-CHA-no”. 🙂

katybug Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 10:19 am

Bjorn means “little bear” and it’s a legitimate, familiar name both in US and Europe (I have a friend who just used it for her son’s middle name). So I don’t think the meaning of Orsino makes it un-useable, especially to honor an Orson.

Giuls Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 11:35 am

I LOVE Alessio, it is one of my favorites! I like Alessandro and Flavio as well. And Gianluca is very nice. (I LOVE Lucca.)

I agree with Claire, I love Benedetto. Vittorio is one of my recent discoveries and is really growing on me.

Sara Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 11:40 am

@Chiara – do you have any other current Italian nicknames you know of? Would love to hear some!

Also, in Argentina the name Fernando is commonly nicknamed Nando, so I can see why people would think Nardo would be okay for Leonardo – but I think Leo is just wonderful.

Wanted to name my boys O names like Aldo, Hugo, Bruno or Enrico.

Mel Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 1:53 pm

@Giuls: I like Vittorio as well, and the nn Tori is appealing. I know some will say it’s too feminine, but I think that Tori on Mythbusters gives it plenty of masculine credibility!

Chiara Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

@Sara – I can think of:

Matteo = Teo
Gabriele, Emanuele, Michele, Raffaele = Lele, but Emanuele can also be Manu
Filippo = Pippo
Nicolò/Niccolò/Nicola = Nico
Francesco is sometimes Checco or Cecco, but most of the times it’s abreviated in Fra or Franci, same goes for Francesca
Edoardo = Edo or Dodo

Anyway, for most names the nicknames are the first syllables of the name, so Alessandro/Alessio = Ale, Federico = Fede, Simone = Simo, Daniele = Dani, Gabriele = Gabri, Stefano = Ste or Stefi, Giovanni = Gio (pronounced like JOE) etc… and same goes for girls names, Alessia = Ale, Alice = Ali, Martina = Marti, Giulia = Giuli (pronounced like Julie), Beatrice = Bea, Elena/Eleonora = Ele, Caterina = Cate, Arianna = Ari, etc…
And then there are some names for which english nicknames are used, like Giacomo = Jack, Riccardo = Ricky, Tommaso = Tommy, Michele = Micky, Alessandro = Alex, Elisabetta = Betty (or Betta or Eli), Benedetta = Benny, Maria = Mary, etc…

Sparkle Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Well, I live in Italy and have never heard of:
Amato = Naming your kid “adored” as in ‘That teacher was adored.’ could be a problem.
Bello = Naming a kid Handsome, also problematic
Orsino = It would be like saying ‘Wash your hands Little Bear and don’t forget to brush your teeth” Makes me think of Goldilocks

But anyway I liked the rest especially Flavio!

Sparkle Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

@ Chiara Exactly!
@ Giuls I live near Lucca!

Lola Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

@Claire: Thanks, I *knew* my brain had those things linked somehow! 😀 Still love Luciano, don’t care that it’s on old men. After all, I want my boys to be old men someday!

Giuls Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 7:25 pm

@Chiara- I am a Giulia and most often go by Giuls, but I am also not Italian 🙂

@Sparkle- I visited Lucca when I was 13 and it was great! I have loved the idea of using Lucca as a name since that time.

Johanna Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I think Bella/Bello are the equivalent of Beau/Belle which are used all the time. Just as Belle and Beau aren’t used in France (except as a pet name) I can see why Bello and Bella may not be used in Italy but they can be used sweetly here.
I didn’t really like Orsino until I found out that it meant Little Bear… what a sweet meaning.

Kate Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Alessio is not a short form of Alessandro. Alessandro is the Italian form of Alexander, and Alessio is the Italian form of Alexis.

courtlett Says:

April 13th, 2011 at 12:55 am

I know a 2 year old Gianluca, sweetest boy ever!

Sparkle Says:

April 13th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

@ Giuls Awesome!
@ Kate I think they meant short alternative not nn.

Kate Says:

April 14th, 2011 at 1:48 am

@ Sparkle
I think they did mean nn, because their name definition has been changed since I commented. If you click on “Alessio” it now says “Italian variation of Alexis”, but yesterday it said “Diminutive of Alessandro”.

Leslie Owen Says:

April 14th, 2011 at 8:35 pm

My great-grandpa was a Rocco, a name I still love. Other names I’ve heard in Italy are Silvano, Edmundo, Ettore, Giuseppe, Maurizio, Augusto, Alfredo, Saviero, Carmine, Pasquale, Vicenzo, Stefano, and my favourite, Massimo.

Sparkle Says:

May 9th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

@ Kate Okay you won!

Anna Says:

May 12th, 2011 at 11:33 am

Here are some more ideas. Domenico (for short in Sicilian it is Mimi or Mimo). Leonardo… most people use Leo as short but In Sicily it is Nana. Sigismondo (nickname Tony). Another old school Sicilian name is Calogero (Carlo for short). Other great Italian boy names are Andrea, Enrico, Mario, Massimiliano, Mattia, Marco, Paolo, Peppino (Peppi for short), Stefano, Antonio, Claudio, Gino, Vincenzo (Vince or Vinny), Angelo, Riccardo, Davide, Salvatore, Fabio, Cristiano, Fulvio, anything with Gian (examples given in previous posts) and also just simply Gianni.

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