After doing my Italian family tree for the past four years now I have decided to share my journey and some very helpful hints.
Most of Italy is very rich in genealogical records and info. Most people researching their Italian genealogy in the U.S. are the descendants of Italian immigrants. One of the best ways to start you search is to discover the family member who immigrated and what their name was. Also try to find out their date of birth or at least have an idea of when they were born. Using the Ellis Island website you can search through the records and hopefully find your ancestor. Remember that many immigrants changed the spelling of their names. For instance, Giovanni may have become John and Maria may have become Mary. Also a lot of surnames were changed. Di Ciccio may have become DeCiccio or Stasi may have become Stacy. Many immigrants made their names sound more 'American' so that they would be able to fit into American life better.
At a certain point in your family tree you will hit a brick wall. Especially since all of your immigrant ancestor's information is kept back in Italy in the town where you ancestor originated, you will most likely hit this brick wall. Unfortunately in most cases the only way to obtain that info is to contact a relative or the town hall in Italy. In some circumstances you may be able to find info about your family at familysearch.org . Here it is very easy to enter any information about your ancestor that you know and narrow it down to the ones who are most likely your family.
Since a lot of Italian immigrants settled down in upstate New York, they most likely had an obituary in the paper or a marriage announcement. A great site for finding old obituaries or marriage announcements is fultonhistory.com. It only includes newspapers for upstate New York. The dates of most articles vary from about 1900 to present day.I used this website and was able to successfully find four of my great-grandparent's obituaries. By obtaining the obituary you can possibly find out the town of origin that you ancestor came from. For example, when I found my great-grandmother's obituary it said that she was born in Esperia, Frosinone,Italy in 1888. After gathering that info I went to the Ellis Island website and enter in the info I knew. From that I was able to find out that she had immigrated in 1911 on a ship named the Louisiana out of a port in Napoli. I then went to familysearch.org and was able to find that she had two sisters who both immigrated after her. I was also able to find out her date of marriage to my great-grandfather back in Italy. I found out all of this information for little to no cost at all.
Another website that may help you with your Italian genealogy is ancestry.com. From two years experience using this website I would say that for some of my family tree lines it gave me a lot of information. But for some of my other lines it didn't have a single file on my ancestor. One great thing I loved about my membership was that I was able to find a distant cousin who was researching the same family line that I had been searching for for a very long time. Upon emailing them I received pictures that I had never seen before and a whole bunch of info that I was able to continue my search. A family line of mine that I had once known nothing about became the line that I now know the most about.
Another helpful hint for researching your Italian ancestors is once you have learned the town of origin research a little bit about that town. Find out its location on a map and remember a few of the surrounding cities. I found out my great-grandmother's town of origin and didn't know my great-grandfather's yet. Later on I found out that he was from a town that was only six minutes away from my great-grandmother.
The Italian surname, Rossi, is the most common Italian surname in the world. It is of Roman origin. The name Rossi is derived From the Italian word "Rosso" which is translated into English as red. It began to be used as a nickname for a person who had red hair or a red complexion. Typical Italian people of the time usually had dark hair and complexions so the nickname may have also been used to distinguish people of Anglo-Saxon descent. Diminutives of the name such as Ros and Rojo have been found in Spain and Portugal. Throughout time the nickname became a surname and people migrated all throughout Italy. People of Northern Italian origin often would use the alternate spelling, Rosso. While people of Southern Italian origin would use the original spelling. As each Rossi member moved around Italy they would often change the spelling of their surname to make it more suitable for the time or place they lived in as well as the way they looked.
The Italian surname, Moretti, is one of the top 20 Italian surnames throughout the world. It is of Latin origin and comes from the Latin name, Maurus. The Italian personal name, Mauro, is derived from the Latin, Maurus, which the surname Moretti was created. The name was created to describe someone coming from Mauritania in northern Africa or who is dark skinned and dark haired. Some alternative spellings are, Moretto, Moro, Morelli, Moratti, Moruzzi, Morisi, and Moratelli.
There is also a Jewish Italian form of the Moretti surname which is separate from the one above. The Yiddish words Mordeven Zich, which means worker, and the Italian word Moretto, which means dark hair, where used to create the Jewish Italian Moretti surname. The name was used by Jewish immigrants into southern Italy who wanted to fit in to the Italian culture. Not all people with the surname Moretti are the descendants of the Jewish immigrants.