Show ContentsCatani History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Catani 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 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.

The Cotone (English: cotton) variant originates in the northern end of the municipal territory of Scansano and Siena in Tuscany. This was home to the famous Maggi di Cotone dynasty who held the Castello di Cotone, the Castello di Montepò, the Castello di Colle Massari, the Castello di Vicarello and the Castello della Sabatina.

Early Origins of the Catani family

The surname Catani was first found in the Piedmont and Tuscany areas of Italy. Earliest records date back to the 10th century in the city of Genoa, where members of the family were landowners of Voragine, Mazzone, Faggiolo, and Lemno.

The surname was registered around this time in the cities of Pavia, Milan, Rome, Prato, Florence, Bologna, Genoa, and on the island of Sicily.

The Cotone branch held the lordship of Cotone, Montorgiali and Matignato, and gave two grand masters of Malta, all before 1464. They resided in supreme magistratures. The family was widespread in Sicily, especially in Palermo where it has at its base an original nickname or trade name formed from the Sicilian cuttuni "cotton." [1] Another branch was originally from France, and transplanted to Messina where in the county of Bavuso, they had established a branch of the family in Palermo, adorned by Philip IV of the title of Prince of Castelnuovo in 1623. [2]

Early History of the Catani family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Catani research. Another 119 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1442, 1590, 1600, 1755 and 1770 are included under the topic Early Catani History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Catani Spelling Variations

Italian surnames come in far more variations than the names of most other nationalities. Regional traditions and dialects are a decisive factor in this characteristic. For example, northern names tend to end in "o", while southern in "i". Also important, but not unique to Italy, was the fact that before dictionaries and the printing press most scribes simply spelled words according to their sounds. The predictable result was an enormous number of spelling variations. The recorded spellings of Catani include Catani, Catania, Catanese, Cataneo, Catanea, Catanoso, Catanei, Catanio and many more.

Early Notables of the Catani family

Prominent among members of the family was

  • Paolo Catania of Monreale, a priest in 1590
  • Francesco Catanio was a painter in Ferrara in 1600
  • Francesco Maria Catani was a Florentine painter born in 1755
  • Luigi Catani of Prato was a famous artist and painter in 1770 whose works include frescoes in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence

Migration of the Catani family

Some of the first North American settlers with Catani name or one of its variants:

Contemporary Notables of the name Catani (post 1700) +

  • Vittorio Catani (1940-2020), Italian science fiction writer

  1. De Felice, Emidio, Dizionario Dei Cognomi Italiani, edited by Arnoldo Mondadori, Italy, Oscar Mondadori, 1978.
  2. Fucilla, Joseph Guerin. Our Italian Surnames. Baltimore, Genealogical Pub. Co., 1987 on Facebook