As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
Looking through the Family History Library films I find both nobility and peasants with my Sicilian surname. There is also a coat of arms from the early 1600s and the name is listed in the Libro d'Oro. As far back as I have gotten (late 1700s), my particular ancestors in Sicily were peasants. Would that suggest that they worked on the land of the nobility at some point and took their name or did they somehow lose their connection with the people who were given titles?
Thank you for all your information.
Surnames in Italy commenced with High Nobility around the millennia and later by the Nobility and still later by the artisans and townspeople of wealth or repute. The family names usually started with nicknames, that became first names and then family names. Sometime in the 12th to the 13th century common people commenced having surnames on that basis of nicknames usually based upon work activity, physical characteristics, reputation, various capacities. Assuming the name of the local nobleman who was their "fief -chief" is also a probability.
You might wish to trace the genealogy of the nobility surname by going to google.com and put in the title the "Surname Genealogy, location in Sicily, Italy for any research conducted or being conducted about the surname which should include both Nobility and perhaps common ancestor genealogy as well. =Peter=