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.
I wasn't aware of the fact Italian women kept their maiden name. That explains why on many immigration records, my female ancestors use their maiden names. It made things so much easier, as finding maiden names can be hard. I have been trying to find an Irish ancestors maiden for a while now.
I have always used my maiden name and I don't regret it today at all but while it's easier for genealogical purposes it makes a lot of other things more difficult some times.
I found out recently though that even if a woman adopts her husbands name at marriage it is not really her last name unless she formally changes it in a court - she only assumes it. It is accepted on documents though.
Couples in many spanish speaking countries in South America give their children both their father's last name and their mothers maiden name to preserve both families names. When marrying a woman has the OPTION of keeping all her names and adding her husbands last name (like you see sometimes as "maria Fulana-rodriguez de Gonzalez) or dropping her mother's maiden name. =Peter=
I've always used my maiden name also. I decided to do this long before I discovered that it was the norm for my female ancestors. While I am definitely swimming against the current here in today's midwest, it makes me happy to know that I am following a very old Italian tradition.
The very famous Marilyn vos Savant, who is in the Guiness World Book of Records for having the highest IQ, decided to use her mother's last name, vos Savant. She wrote in her magazine column, "When enough women keep their surnames throughout life and pass them on to their daughters for life, we will witness an improvement in the stature and independence of women the likes of which has not been seen since women got the vote."
My wife (she who is always right and never wrong) says that Savant's concept of independence did not take into consideration, children,cleaning, cooking,ironing etc and a job in order to keep her independence which she characterizes as an illusion. Her opinion about independence is not to work outside of the home and demand excellence in goods and services from her spouse, lover and transients...names can be used as a medium of exchange. =Peter=