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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Italian, Spanish

The Fontana family can trace its noble origins to the Italian region of Tuscany. 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 Tuscany 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 Fontana family lived in Bologna. Earliest records of this lineage date back to the year 483, when Egidio Fontana helped with the constitution of the new Venetian Republi c.


The surname Fontana was first found in Bolgna (Latin: Bononia), the largest city and the capital of Emilia-Romagna Region where the surname is derived from the Late Latin word "fontana," meaning "spring" or "well." It is quite likely that the first bearer of this name lived near such a place.

In comparison with other European surnames, Italian surnames have a surprising number of forms. They reflect the regional variations and the many dialects of the Italian language, each with its own distinctive features. For example, in Northern Italy the typical Italian surname suffix is "i", whereas in Southern Italy it is "o". Additionally, spelling changes frequently occurred because medieval scribes and church officials often spelled names as they sounded rather than according to any specific spelling rules. The spelling variations in the name Fontana include Fontana, Fontani, Fontanella, Fontanelli, Fontanino, Fontanini, Fontanin, Fontanotti, Fontanot, Fontanazzi, Fontanari and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fontana research. More information is included under the topic Early Fontana History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Prominent among members of the family was Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614), an Italian painter, regarded as the first woman artist; Giovanni Battista Fontana (1524-1587), an Italian painter and engraver; Prospero Fontana, a painter in Bologna around 1520 who worked much of his life in Rome; Count Alfonso Fontana, a 16th century composer...

Another 116 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fontana Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name Fontana:

Fontana Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Julian Fontana, aged 43, arrived in Texas in 1828
  • Lasane Fontana, aged 4, arrived in Key West, Fla in 1838
  • R D Fontana, aged 40, landed in Key West, Fla in 1840
  • Dominique Fontana, aged 36, landed in Missouri in 1844
  • T Fontana, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • ...

Fontana Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Alfred Fontana, aged 26, who emigrated to the United States from Aclicart, Italy, in 1908
  • Agnese Fontana, aged 21, who landed in America from Lucca, Italy, in 1912
  • Adele Fontana, aged 18, who landed in America from Fasciandora, Italy, in 1913
  • Alberto Fontana, aged 8, who settled in America from Modena, Italy, in 1913
  • Alessandro Fontana, aged 18, who emigrated to the United States from Veroli, Italy, in 1913
  • ...

  • Tom Fontana (b. 1951), American three-time Primetime Emmy Award winning writer and producer
  • Dominic Joseph Fontana (b. 1931), American drummer for Elvis Presley for 14 years
  • D C Fontana, American science fiction writer
  • Carl Fontana (1928-2003), American jazz trombonist
  • Jimmy Fontana (1934-2013), Italian actor, composer and singer-songwriter, best known for his song "Che sarà" that was also performed by José Feliciano and Ricchi e Poveri
  • Alberto Fontana (b. 1967), retired Italian football goalkeeper
  • Lucio Fontana (1899-1968), Argentine-born, Italian painter and sculptor, the founder of Spatialism
  • Felice Fontana (1730-1805), Italian scientist
  • Gregorio Fontana (1735-1803), Italian mathematician
  • Donald "Don" Fontana (1931-2015), Canadian tennis player active in the 1950s and 1960s, inducted into the Tennis Canada Hall of Fame in 2000
  • ...

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    Other References

    1. Rolland, and H.V. Rolland. Illustrations to the Armorial Général by J.B. Rietstap. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today, 1967. Print. (ISBN 0-0900455-209).
    2. Rietstap, Johannes Baptist. Armorial Général. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    3. Glazier, Ira A. and P. Williams Filby Edition. Italians to America. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Print.
    4. Bascapè, Giacomo and Marcello del Piazzo. Insegne e Simboli Araldica pubblica e privata medievale e moderna. Rome: 1983. Print.
    5. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    6. Bongioanni, Angelo. Nomi e Cognomi. Saggio di Ricerche Etimologiche e Storiche. Torino: A. Forni, 1979. Print.
    7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    8. Fucilla, Josheph G. Our Italian Surnames. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0806311878).
    9. Stiens, Robert E. Passenger list Italy to New York 1893 In Italian Genealogist. Torrance, CA: Augustan Society No 3, 1983. Print.
    10. Di Crollalanza, G.B. Dizionario Storico-Blasonico Delle Famiglie Nobili e Notabili Italiane 3 volumes. Pisa. Print.
    11. ...

    The Fontana Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Fontana Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

    This page was last modified on 13 August 2016 at 21:45.

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