Italian Government Structure

Before I start posting on the specifics of how to request Italian records, it’s important that we all understand how the government is structured.  Knowing the overall Italian government structure is important because it affects our records search.  We need to know at which level of the government we can find certain records before we go requesting those records.

The government of Italy is divided and subdivided as follows:

Paese (country) –> Regione (regions) –> Provincia (provinces) –> Comune (municipality)

Paese (Country)

This is Italy:

Italian-Citizenship-Italy

It’s a mighty good looking country, no?  The good news is that Italy is so fashion-minded, it shaped itself into a boot.  That bad news is that there are no civil records that we need that are held at the overarching country-level of governance.

Regione (Regions)

Italy is currently divided into 20 regions:

Italian-Citizenship-Regions

Abruzzo
Valle D’Aosta
Apulia
Basilicata
Calabria
Campania
Emilia-Romagna
Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Lazio
Liguria
Lombardia (Lombardy)
Molise
Piemonte
Sardegna (Sardinia)
Sicilia (Sicily)
Marche (The Marches)
Trentino-Alto Adige
Toscana (Tuscany)
Umbria
Veneto

Commonly, this is where most of our knowledge about our ancestors stops, unless we have done some genealogical research. We might know great-grandpa is from Sicily, but we may not know exactly where within Sicilia he was born.

There are a few regions that hold some civil records, but not many.  We will discuss this in a later article.

Provincia (Provinces)

The next level of subdivision in the government after the region level is the province. There are currently 110 provinces in Italy (depending on whom you ask).  Here is a list of them, in case you are really into alphabetized lists:

Agrigento (AG)Alessandria (AL)Ancona (AN)Aosta (AO)Arezzo (AR)
Ascoli Piceno (AP)Asti (AT)Avellino (AV)Bari (BA)Barletta-Andria-Trani (BT)
Belluno (BL)Benevento (BN)Bergamo (BG)Biella (BI)Bologna (BO)
Bolzano (BZ)Brescia (BS)Brindisi (BR)Cagliari (CA)Caltanissetta (CL)
Campobasso (CB)Carbonia-Iglesias (CI)Caserta (CE)Catania (CT)Catanzaro (CZ)
Chieti (CH)Como (CO)Cosenza (CS)Cremona (CR)Crotone (KR)
Cuneo (CN)Enna (EN)Fermo (FM)Ferrara (FE)Florence (FI)
Foggia (FG)Forlì-Cesena (FC)Frosinone (FR)Genoa (GE)Gorizia (GO)
Grosseto (GR)Imperia (IM)Isernia (IS)La Spezia (SP)L'Aquila (AQ)
Latina (LT)Lecce (LE)Lecco (LC)Livorno (LI)Lodi (LO)
Lucca (LU)Macerata (MC)Mantua (MN)Massa and Carrara (MS)Matera (MT)
Medio Campidano (VS)Messina (ME)Milan (MI)Modena (MO)Monza and Brianza (MB)
Naples (NA)Novara (NO)Nuoro (NU)Ogliastra (OG)Olbia-Tempio (OT)
Oristano (OR)Padua (PD)Palermo (PA)Parma (PR)Pavia (PV)
Perugia (PG)Pesaro and Urbino (PU)Pescara (PE)Piacenza (PC)Pisa (PI)
Pistoia (PT)Pordenone (PN)Potenza (PZ)Prato (PO)Ragusa (RG)
Ravenna (RA)Reggio Calabria (RC)Reggio Emilia (RE)Rieti (RI)Rimini (RN)
Rome (RM)Rovigo (RO)Salerno (SA)Sassari (SS)Savona (SV)
Siena (SI)Sondrio (SO)Syracuse (SR)Taranto (TA)Teramo (TE)
Terni (TR)Trapani (TP)Trento (TN)Treviso (TV)Trieste (TS)
Turin (TO)Udine (UD)Varese (VA)Venezia (VE)Verbano-Cusio-Ossola (VB)
Vercelli (VC)Verona (VR)Vibo Valentia (VV)Vicenza (VI)Viterbo (VT)

There are a few kinds of records held at the province level, the most helpful of which is the Military Conscription Record (Registro di Leva).   We will go into a lot more detail on this record and where to find it later on in the Records from Italy series.

Comune (Municipality)

After the province level of government, the next level of subdivision is the municipality – otherwise known as the Comune.  There are ~8,100 Comuni in Italy. Woof!

Here at the Comune level, you will find pretty much all of your ancestors’ birth, marriage, death, and stato di famiglia records.  Since there are so many Comuni in Italy, however, you need to have very specific and solid information about your ancestors’ life events before you will be able to request their documents. To successfully request documents, you will at least need your ancestor’s full name, date of birth, place of birth, and approximate date of the life event in question.

Tutto chiaro?  Any questions so far?  Good.  Moving on…

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