The Catanese family can trace its noble origins to the Italian region of Piedmont. Although people were originally known only by a single name, it became necessary for people to adapt a second name to identify themselves as populations grew and travel became more frequent. The process of adopting fixed hereditary surnames was not complete until the modern era, but the use of hereditary family names in Italy began in the 10th and 11th centuries. Italian hereditary surnames were developed according to fairly general principles and they are characterized by a profusion of derivatives coined from given names. Although the most traditional type of family name found in the region of Piedmont is the patronymic surname, which is derived from the father's given name, local surnames are also found. Local names, which are the least frequent of the major types of surnames found in Italy, are derived from a place-name where the original bearer once resided or held land. Often Italian local surnames bore the prefix "di," which signifies emigration from one place to another, but does not necessarily denote nobility. The Catanese family lived in Catani, a province located at the foot of Mount Etna, on the Gulf of Catani. In the 8th century BC, the province of Catani was founded by the Greeks and it became the Athenian base of operations against Syracuse in 432 BC. In the 9th century, the province was taken by the Saracens and then by the Normans in 1090.