Your Italian Heritage

August 23, 2018  - by 

From the Roman Empire to the Renaissance to the modern day, Italy has influenced cultures globally with its great achievements. With such a rich history behind them, Italians around the world today are deeply proud of their Italian roots. With anywhere from 60–140 million people with Italian heritage worldwide, Italians are among the most populous ethnic groups in the world. It’s possible that you too have Italian ancestry.


Italy Emigration

A history of Italian immigrants and immigration records

How to research your Italian genealogy

Italian Last Names

Common Italian last names and their origins and meanings

Learn about your Italian last name and its meaning

Italian Dual Citizenship

Italian heritage and dual citizenship laws

Italian heritage and dual citizenship

Italian Records

How to find and use Italian genealogy records

Italian heritage and genealogy records research

Italy Records Research

FamilySearch’s free archives make it easy for you to find your Italian ancestors’ names. FamilySearch has the largest collection of Italian genealogical records (images and indexes) in the world, and its collections continue to grow by millions yearly. FamilySearch’s work with archives throughout Italy has digitally preserved more than 150 million images of historical genealogical records to make them freely accessible online. These records currently contain more than 500 million names—and it’s likely your ancestors might be among them.

As digital images are created and indexed, these records become available in multiple locations on the FamilySearch website, so start with FamilySearch’s Italy Research Page when looking for Italian records. Here you can easily find information about all of the Italy collections and learning aids on one helpful reference page. Be sure to explore the indexed historical records, image-only historical records, and catalog material to discover the extensive inventory of vast Italian genealogical records available to you on FamilySearch.  

Do you know when Italy first started recording censuses, military drafts, and civil registrations? Several types of Italian records may help you find your ancestors, and each one has a historical beginning. For example, finding an Italian birth record or death record for an ancestor may help answer a lot of questions regarding your Italian family history, and you can find those types of records in Italy starting in the 1500s. Check out the time line on “When Did Italian Historical Records Begin?” to find hints about what record collections you can use to search for your ancestors. The best records to start with might be civil registration and church records, since they are accessible from the early 1800s to the 1940s.

Italian genealogy research and historical archived documents

Italian Culture and Emigration

Around 50 million people with Italian heritage live in Italy today, and up to 140 million people worldwide can claim Italian heritage.1 It doesn’t matter if you live in Europe, South Africa, or even Australia, if you say “pasta” instead of “spaghetti,” listen to Andrea Bocelli and Enrico Caruso frequently, or your friends joke that if they tied your hands it would make you speechless, you probably are among the many Italians whose family traditions are alive and strong. Even if you’re not as sure about your Italian ancestry, you’re in good company wherever you may be! There are people with Italian heritage just about anywhere you might go.

Why is Italian culture and the worldwide Italian population so widespread? Italy has had a few major emigration waves, the largest of which occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries. If your family was among these early emigrants, they likely moved to new home countries for better work and living conditions or to escape political pressures during times of upheaval. This time line shows some of the major factors that prompted and slowed this mass migration.

A time line of Italian immigration to find your Italian family and ancestors

Whatever their reason for moving to and from Italy, Italian immigrants throughout history have brought rich cultural traditions of Italian food, fashion, music, and a zest for life to many countries and have left genealogical footprints for their descendants to trace:


  1. “Italians,” Wikipedia, last modified August 4, 2018,

Additional Sources:

  • Trafford R. Cole. Italian Genealogical Records: How to Use Italian Civil, Ecclesiastical, and Other Records in Family History Research (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Incorporated, 1995). 


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    1. Antonio Martino was born in Naples May 8 1874. His father was Michael Martino and his mother was Carminio Medici

  1. Provincia di Avelino

    Penso che questa pandemia sia servita a qualche scopo, almeno per me, oltre a risolvere alcuni problemi a casa, ho fatto anche molte ricerche sui miei antenati per una possibile cittadinanza italiana, per me e per i miei due figli, ma mi sono imbattuto in un problema , e vorrei vedere se puoi aiutarmi, in relazione a Michele Bevilacqua sposato con Carmella Mitria Bevilacqua, che sono italiane emigrate in Brasile, le informazioni che ho su di loro sono quelle che mando come allegato per scoprire se loro corrisponde a quello che potrei essere in un Notaio o in Chiesa lì a Volturara Irpina, se non mi aiuti con la tua ricerca genealogica, nel cui corpo potrei inviare questa domanda nella città di Volturara Irpina o anche ad Avelino, perché è molto vecchio, e forse non c’erano documenti che fosse nato nel 1854. Si è sposato con Carmela Mitra nel 1977, deve essere emigrato in Brasile in seguito, perché nel 1884, questa informazione che ho già è nato António Bevilacqua già qui in Brasile, tutto Informazioni informazioni che il Consolato d’Italia in Brasile richiede come documento. I nomi corretti sono quelli sopra, non quelli scritti sotto. Sposato in Italia e poi sia venuto in Brasile

    Google Translate – Italian to English: Province of Avelino

    I think this pandemic has served some purpose, at least for me, besides solving some problems at home, I also did a lot of research on my ancestors for a possible Italian citizenship, for me and my two children, but I came across a problem, and I would like to see if you can help me, in relation to Michele Bevilacqua married to Carmella Mitria Bevilacqua, who are Italian emigrated to Brazil, the information I have about them is what I send as an attachment to find out if they match what I could be in a Notary or in the Church there in Volturara Irpina, if you don’t help me with your genealogical research, in whose body I could send this question to the city of Volturara Irpina or even to Avelino, because it is very old, and maybe there were documents that he was born in 1854. He married Carmela Mitra in 1977, he must have emigrated to Brazil later, because in 1884, this information that I already was born António Bevilacqua already here in Brazil, tut to Information information that the Italian Consulate in Brazil requires as a document. The correct names are those above, not those written below. He married in Italy and then both came to Brazil

    1. Hi Altamiro! Thank you for your research question. Please check out the FREE Virtual Research Strategy Sessions where you can schedule time with a specialist to help you on any family history question you may have. You can also connect with other FamilySearch users who may be able to help you, by joining the FamilySearch Community. Good luck and thank you for reading the blog!

      Google Translate – English to Italian: Ciao Altamiro! Grazie per la tua domanda di ricerca. Dai un’occhiata alle sessioni di strategia di ricerca virtuale GRATUITE dove puoi programmare il tempo con uno specialista per aiutarti su qualsiasi domanda sulla storia familiare che potresti avere. Puoi anche metterti in contatto con altri utenti di FamilySearch che potrebbero essere in grado di aiutarti, unendoti alla FamilySearch Community . Buona fortuna e grazie per aver letto il blog!

  2. Hello, is there a way to find christenings and death records from 17th century? I think I’ve searched everywhere from FamilySearch, Ancestry to Antenati, but there seem to be records mostly only from 19th century.
    I’ve been searching for my ancestors for a while now and the first ancestor with my italian surname appearing in my country was born in 1689 (not sure where, it could have been in Austria or Italy).
    I know for sure only that my ancestors came here to Czechia from Italy. As I dag into the results those mentioned websites gave me from Italy (19th century), I found out they are based on misread letters in our surname and so those ancestors are in fact not mine unfortunately. Any suggestions?