As a lifelong reader, I get very excited when other people reference my favorite books, especially the ones that are relatively obscure. Imagine my enthusiasm when I saw the Stravaganza shout out in Appellation Mountain's Sunday Summary!
This excellent series by Mary Hoffman takes place in an alternate version of Renaissance Italy, called Talia. The series is written for pre-teens and teens, but the story is fun for readers of any age. Check out the official site here!
Instead of my usual format of mixing up character names, I'll just be focusing on the cool names already found in the series. Let's begin!
Silvia - "from the forest"
This original spelling of Sylvia dropped off the top 1000 in 2006, but its sister spelling seems to be rising up the charts again. To me, the sound is more "silvery" and Italian than the popular version. It's also a great nature-name choice for anyone near the woods! In Stravaganza, Silvia's character is powerful and positive, protecting daughter Arianna and pursuing her own passions.
Leonora - "the other Aenor"
This Italian variation of Eleanor might be ideal for anyone who loves the English version but is turned off by its popularity - Eleanor is at #78, while Leonora hasn't made the list since the 1940's. Feminine and strong, Leonora has the cute nickname options of Leo or Nora. It could also be a great way to honor a familial Leonard.
Giuditta - "woman from Judea"
In the age of Gia, Giselle, and Giovanna, why not Giuditta? It's the Italian form of Judith, but much prettier and more exotic. In the series, the character is a talented artist and sculptor - and with a name like Giuditta, your child could be the next Michelangelo!
Raffaella - "God has healed"
The feminine form of Raphael, this spelling definitely has more ruffles. But it's so friendly and beautiful, who would want to be friends with a Raffaella? It also lends itself to the Ella nickname (or even Raffi if you're a children's music fan). The angelic connotations are also positive, but the character associations in Stravaganza keep this name down to earth.
Lucien/Luciano - "light"
Without giving too much away, I'll say that this character uses both names at different points in the series. And with such lovely iterations, why not? This updates popular Luke and lightens Leonardo at the same time. The meaning is great, and the sound of each name is pleasing. As for the character? Lucien/Luciano is the hero we love to root for!
Aurelio - "golden"
I'm sure Aurelio/Aurelia/Aurelius has come up in my posts before, and it will continue - such a great sound and meaning for a name! Nicknames Ari or Leo are among the possibilities. As for a guilty pleasure set, why not Aurelio and Argento ("silvery")?
Gaetano - "man from Gaeta"
While you may be familiar with the English name Guy, this version makes it less of an identity and more of a name. Pronounced "guy-TAN-o", has both the trend "ae" combo in the name next to the also-trendy "o" ending - but it's highly doubtful you'll see this name anywhere else in the US. Nickname Tano is a cute possibility.
Sky/Celestino - "heavenly"
Nevaeh, Skylar and Celeste have gotten popular - why not Sky or Celestino? The character in the series is a shy but talented artist, and a nature-name like Sky is perfect for any free spirit. While Sky/Skye is currently charting on the girls' lists, this name is definitely great for a little boy with stars in his eyes.
To learn more about the series, check out the above links and the Wikipedia page!