Gens-Italia – Short Overview
Gens-Italia is an excellent site to use to see the distribution of your surname in Italy. Some of you might remember it as the site Susan Sarandon used in the April 2010 episode of Who do You Think You Are? to help her get started on researching her roots. While I know I have written briefly about this site before I think it important to revisit how the site can be used as it has changed slightly.
To get started, you simply click on the word Cerca in the image and click the arrow or hit enter. On the next screen you will see a small search bar which may have the words ‘cerca un cognome‘. Enter your surname and click on the button which says trova. That’s pretty much it. A map of Italy should open up showing where the concentration of your surname is currently found.
Now if you have a common surname such as Rossi then it probably won’t help you much as the map is almost completely covered by circles. This means the name is extremely popular throughout all of Italy and found in 4541 towns. Now if you search a not so common surname such as Baldovini you will see that while it is primarily found in Central Italy it only appears 16 towns or villages. By clicking on the circles you will get a close up map of the region the name is found in and with the help of Google Maps you might even be able to zero in on the specific towns.
Searching the U.S.A.
You can also search for your name in the USA using the la mappa
Cerca anche in usa feature. Another window appears with a search bar similar to the one above. This can can be really useful if you’re trying to determine not only where your ancestors originally emigrated from but to where those with the surname are currently living. Once again enter Baldovini in the search bar and click trova. The map shows there are currently only three states in which the name is prevalent. But, if we translate the name to Baldwin, the American equivalent to Baldovini, it now becomes a totally different ball game with the name being distributed fairly evenly in almost every US state representing hundreds of people.