As Italian names are sweeping the US, I think it's a good time to look at their country of origin and find some new(ish) names to bring across the Atlantic. This is another part of my Global Names series, so check out the link to travel the world of naming!
I'm look at the top 30 baby names for Italy in the year 2014 (still no 2015 data yet for a lot of countries). I'll choose five for each gender, and include their English equivalents (if they exist). And there's a uniqueness factor - all but one of these names aren't in the US top 1000!
Source: Top Italian Names
Greta - Margaret
Currently at #7 in Italy and at #594 in the United States, Greta hits all the right notes - the old Hollywood feel, the hard and soft sounds, and the childhood sweetness that translates into adulthood elegance. Greta's previous peaks were in 1932 and 1967, and with the upswing of retro names it's been climbing back up the list since 2011. So while it's not unheard-of, its positive traits far outweigh its popularity!
This name comes from the Greek goddess who ruled over the earth in mythology - feminine and powerful, Gaia is not a bad namesake! Sound similarities to Maya and Naya will help it fit in on the playground. Also, for those of you ecologically-minded, the earth connection is a major plus. Gaia is currently at #11 in Italy, but it's never ranked in the US!
Ginevra - Guinevere, Jennifer
This name has sparked more interest lately due to its Harry Potter connection - Ginevra is the full first name of spunky Ginny Weasley. But that interest hasn't yet translated to popularity charts, so this name is a very unique pick! Meaning "white spectre", Ginevra also has many of the same sounds as Virginia - a not-too-distant honorific possibility?
Viola - Violet
While Violet verges on overabundance, the alternative Viola is an excellent almost-unused choice (its at #19 in Italy). The name was used in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and it was a very popular name in the late 19th and early 20th century. If you're looking for a name that's retro but classic, strong but lovely, and established but not trendy, Viola is a great option.
Ludovica - Louisa
Unusual to the ear of an English speaker, Ludovica is glamorous and transoceanic (its English equivalent isn't too popular either). At #29 in Italy, it's never been on a US list. And while its length is effeminate and graceful, the nickname possibilities are fantastic: Lulu, Louie, Dove, Vicky. It's another example of a subtle honorific for any familial Louis'!
Mattia - Matthew
Both Mattia and similar Matteo are at #6 and #7 in Italy, with the latter rising up the charts in the US. So let's look at sweet Mattia: the a-sound-ending ties in with well-loved Noah and Elijah, the initial syllable lends itself to classic nickname Matt, and statistics say your Mattia will be the only one in his class. It's also a great unisex choice!
Federico - Frederick
Take this road-less-traveled to get to the cute nicknames Freddie or Rico. Federico was in the US top 1000 on and off for over 100 years before disappearing entirely in 1992. Its exciting sound and masculine feel make it totally usable now, especially next to Leonardo and Alessandro. Portuguese variation Frederico is another great pick!
Pietro - Peter
As Peter continues to slide off the charts, look abroad for better alternatives - Pietro, Pierre, Pedro. Meaning "rock", the Biblical connection may be positive for some namers, but the sound is anything but old-fashioned. There are quite a few historical Italian artist namesakes as well, giving Pietro a more well-rounded aura.
Simone - Simon
While Simone has become a feminine option in English-speaking nations, I say, why let the girls have all the fun? Simon has been a classic, religious option, and changing the pronunciation to See-MONE adds oomph. Meaning "he has heard", Simone could be a great option for musically-inclined families or relative honorifics.
Filippo - Philip or PhillipA whimsical Italian name that offers a bunch of fun nickname opportunities, Filippo livens up the old-fashioned Philip. It means "lover of horses", but doesn't have the dude ranch sound of Austin or Blake. Spanish variation Felipe is also a viable option.
Which are your favorites? Tell me in the comments!