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.
My grandfather Giovanni LaFianza was born in Ferrandina, Basilicata, in 1879. There is no translation in Italian for "LaFianza". However, in Spanish, "LaFianza" means "bail" (as in "jail").
I have been able to trace all LaFianza's - there aren't that many - here in the U.S. back to Ferrandina. Not only are there no LaFianza's currently in that small town, but theree are only three phone listings for this name in the entire country of Italy. And none at all in Spain.
I know of the Spanish influence in Italy, as they ruled there on-and-off from 1400 - 1800 or so. In fact, Ferrandina itself was named for King Ferdinand of Spain in the 1490's.
My question is this: how common is it in Italy to have a Spanish surname, and what is the significance? Could my ancestors have come from Spain centuries ago, or is it possible that while under Spanish rule, the local lender in Ferrandina may have been called LaFianza? Thanks.
The etymology of names involves a lot of educated guesswork and more than a few assumptions. Despite our images of the people being quite quaint and limited geographically, remember the ancient quote, "All roads lead to Rome." For 2k years, Spanish, Greek, French and Germanic peoples settled in Italy, often en masse.
Although I'm not qualified to answer your question directly, I can tell you from my research I've concluded that one of my family names, LoChirco, means "The Greek" in ancient Sicilian. Keep tugging on it, read all the history you can find, and ultimately make your own determination. It will be just as good as anyone else's.
It is possible that way back, you have Spanish roots. But also consider that way back then, the Spanish and Italian languages were different than what they are today.
Most of our surnames come from the local dialect of our ancestors homelands. As those dialects are all sprung from Latin, just like standard Italian and Spanish, there are often times where a dialect word is closer in spelling to a Spanish word than to the standard Italian version of that word.
I guess my point is that just as it is possible that there is Spanish ancestry, it is also just as possible that LaFianza meant "bail" in the dialect of the village your family came from... and it is just coincidence that modern Spanish uses the same word for "bail."
[In Teramo area] - Core / Fani / Venanzi / Secone / di Luca / Vannoni / Leteo / Bianchini / Cistola / Felicione / di Marco / Casalena / Romantini / Cintioli / di Francesco / Caponi / Foschi / Traini / d'Ascenzo / Ciare / Ciavattini
Spain ruled most of Italy from 1559 to 1713 and it was only in 1713 that the Austrian Hapsburgs ended Spanish rule making Austria the dominant power until 1796 when napoleon drove the Hapsburghs out of Northern Italy and in 1806 introduced Civil Registration records to be maintained. At that time The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies adopted Napoleons Record keeping law; the kingdom being restruicted to mostly Southern Italy and Sicily and ruled wisely.
The record keeping in the North was not maintained as well by their former sovreigns and civil registration ended in 1815 for the North and became a sometimes voluntary practice. The only prior records were the Council of Trent requirement for the local parishes to begin keeping records in 1543 so between that year and 1806 record keeping was indeed spotty at best..(book of souls =Libro d'anime were the record keeping name for the parish registers.
The www.familysearch.org website under ancestor search would show a pattern of distribution for the surname La Fianza by date and location. =Peter=