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Le famiglie di Poggioreale, Sicilia

We have many hints as to who the people of Poggioreale were and what they were like.

For some of us, our first notion came from a personal relationship or recollection of a parent, grandparent or close family friend who was an immigrant from Poggioreale.  As our circle of contacts grows, and we begin to share stories with other families whose relatives came from Poggioreale, we get to hear about their accomplishments and can quickly see similarities in their shared Sicilian ways and values.  Today we can look to written accounts and historical books about Poggioreale that tell us even more about how our ancestors lived.  Happiest of all, we can get to know present-day residents of Poggioreale through technology and social media inspired by sites like our Poggioreale in America.  You have only to explore here if you want to expand your view of the Poggiorealesi people, then and now.  

We hope to give you a great start here on these pages.

abbucatu: lawyer
acquaiolo: water supplier
adornista: decorator

agricoltore: farmer owner, manager
agrimensore: land surveyor
apprezzatore: appraiser
arte donnesca: women’s arts

avvocato: lawyer
banditore: auctioneer

barbiere: barber
becchino: gravedigger, undertaker 

bordonaro: muleteer

borgese: middle-class townsman
bottaio: barrell-maker
bottegaio, bottegaro: shopkeeper
botteliere, botteliera: innkeeper
bracciale, bracciante: day laborer
bucciere: butcher
calzolaio: shoemaker
campagnolo, campagnuolo:

   field hand
campiere: armed range guard
cansilettiera, canzelettiera:

     socks seamstress

capraio, capraro: goatherd 
cartalana: wool-carder

carrettiere: carter
carusu: mine-boy*
casalinga: housewife, housekeeper,


chiesiastrico: cleric, churchman
civile: upper-class citizen, civil

contadino: peasant sharecropper

cordaio, cordaro: rope maker
craparu: goatherd

crivaro, crivellaio, crivellatore:

cretaio, cretaro: potter
cucitrice: seamstress, often a

cursore: courier, messenger 
donna di casa: housewife

falegname: cabinetmaker, carpenter
ferraro: blacksmith

ferrofabbro: blacksmith

filatrice, filandiera: spinner of thread
forense: lawyer
fruttivendolo: fruit vendor

fornaro: baker
giornaliere: day laborer
impiegato: servant, employee

      industrioso: workman
     levatrice: midwife

List of Sicilian and Italian Occupations

    Many Sicilian civil records show an individual’s ‘professione’, ‘occupazione’ or ‘condizione’ (profession, occupation, condition or status).   It is important to make note of these and understand them, as different persons may have the same names, but may be differentiated by their status.  Common occupations were ‘agricoltore’, ‘campagnolo’, and ‘contadino’, all of which some researchers translate as ‘farmer’.  That fails to reflect the actual condition or status of the individual.  An ‘agricoltore’, sometimes called a ‘massaro’, was generally the owner or manager of a farm, someone we might call a ‘gentleman farmer’.  A ‘campagnuolo’ was a ‘field hand’, hired by the ‘agricoltore’ for a day, week, or season’s work in the fields.  

  A ‘contadino’ was a peasant sharecropper (what might be called a ‘dirt farmer’), a class of landless workers who labored in the fields of a landlord (who was the landowner- farmer), not for wages but for an often meager share of the harvest.  The system was a remnant of feudalism, which was  'officially' abolished in 1812, but whose grip on the poor and uneducated lasted into the 20th century.   Clearly, there was a difference in status between these ‘condizioni’.

  City dwellers also had class-distinctive descriptors for their condition: ‘civile’, possidente, ‘proprietario’, ‘borgese’, ‘villico’ and ‘volgare’.   ‘Civile’ denoted an upper-class citizen, often a civil servant.  'Possidente' meant that the person was a land or property owner.  A ‘proprietario’ was a proprietor of a business or a landlord, often also a property owner.  A ‘borgese’ was a middle-class townsman.  ‘Villico’ is interpreted by many to mean simply ‘villager’, but it would never be applied to upper- or middle-class village residents.  Its meaning is closer to ‘peasant villager’.  And ‘volgare’ denotes the vulgar or lowest class, that of  ‘commoner’.  Another descriptor that was used in civil records from the early 1880’s through 1860 was ‘regnicolo’: literally, ‘subject of the Realm’, meaning ‘subject of the Realm of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.’

  Napoleonic-format civil records use a wealth of different ‘condizione’.  Some are listed below, and you will note that many surnames ultimately were derived from a person’s occupation or condition.  Most are shown in the Italian language, which is what was used in most civili records, even in Sicily.  A few, like 'carusu' and 'scarparu' are in the Sicilian language.

The above are 'condizioni' that were found cited in Sicilian and Italian civil records of birth, marriage and death that were recorded during the 1800's and early

1900's.  For a more complete list, including modern occupations, see Michael Lodico's page at

*carusu - caruso in Italian literally means 'dear boy', but was used extensively to indicate the job of mine-boys who carried raw sulfur ore out of the mine.  The term will not be found in official records, however, because of the shameful treatment of the children and the lassez-faire attitude of civil and church officials over this practice

macellaio: butcher

maniscalco: blacksmith
manuale: day laborer

marinaio, marinaro: sailor
massaro: farm owner, manager
meccanico: mechanic, engineer
messo: messenger

molinaro: miller 
mugnaio: miller
mularu: miller
muratore: stonemason,

   wall builder 
murifabbro: stonemason,

   wall builder

notaro: notary
nutrice: wet-nurse 
operaio: worker
ortolano: greengrocer
panettiere: baker
parroco: parish priest
pastaio: pasta maker
pastore: shepherd
pecoraio, pecoraro: shepherd 
pescatore: fisherman 

pescevendolo: fishmonger

pisnente: peasant

possidente: landowner

ragioniere: accountant
recivetrice (dei proietti): receiver

   of foundlings

rotaia, rotara: foundling

   wheel tender

ruotaia, ruotara: foundling

   wheel tender

sarto: tailor 
scarparu: shoemaker
sensale: broker, middleman”
stagnataio: tinker, solderer
tappezziere: upholsterer
tegolaio, tegolaro: maker of

   roofing tiles 

tessitore: male weaver

tessitrice: female weaver
trafficante: dealer, barterer

vaccaro: cattle herder 
verdunaio: greengrocer
vetturale: liveryman
villanu: peasant sharecropper

      villico: peasant villager
     vitellaro: veal raiser or purveyor
     volgare: commoner
     zolfaio, zolfaro, zolfataio,

zolfataro: sulfur miner
zurfararu: sulfur miner

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