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’, genearally 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’) who worked another’s (the farmer’s) land for a small share of the crops and sometimes a place to live.  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.


acquaiolo: water supplier
adornista: decorator

agricoltore: farmer owner, manager
: land surveyor
: appraiser
arte donnesca
: women’s arts (lace-making)

barbiere: barber
: gravedigger, undertaker

bordonaro: muleteer

borgese: middle-class townsman
bottegaio, bottegaro
: shopkeeper
botteliere, botteliera: innkeeper
, bracciante
: day laborer
calzolaio: shoemaker
campagnolo, campagnuolo
: field hand
: armed range guard
cansilettiera, canzelettiera: socks seamstress

capraio, capraro, craparo: goatherd
: wool-carder

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

civile: upper-class citizen, civil servant
: peasant sharecropper

cordaio, cordaro: rope maker

crivellaio, crivellatore: sieve-maker
cretaio, cretaro
: potter
: seamstress, often a midwife
donna di casa: housewife

falegname: cabinetmaker, carpenter
: blacksmith

ferrofabbro: blacksmith

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

fornaro: baker
giornaliere: day laborer
: servant, employee

      industrioso: workman
levatrice: midwife.

maniscalco: blacksmith
: day laborer

marinaio, marinaro: sailor

mascellaio: butcher
farm owner, manager
: mechanic, engineer

molinaro: miller
mugnaio: miller
: stonemason, wall builder
: stonemason, wall builder

notaro: notary
: wet-nurse
operaio: worker
: greengrocer
: baker
: parish priest
: pasta maker
: shepherd
pecoraio, pecoraro
: shepherd
pescatore: fisherman

pescevendolo: fishmonger

possidente: landowner

ragioniere: accountant
(dei proietti): receiver of foundlings

rotaia, rotara: foundling wheel tender

ruotaia, ruotara: foundling wheel tender

sarto: tailor
: broker, middleman”
stagnataio: tinker, solderer
tegolaio, tegolaro: maker of roofing tiles

tessitore: male weaver

tessitrice: female weaver
trafficante: dealer, barterer

vaccaro: cattle herder
verdunaio: greengrocer
: liveryman

      villico: peasant villager
: commoner
      zolfaio, zolfaro, zolfataio, zolfataro
: sulfur miner
      zurfararo: sulfur miner

     The above are 'condizioni' that I have found cited in Sicilian and Italian civil records of birth, marriage and death that were recorded during the 1800's and the 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 lasses-faire attitude of civil and church officials over this practice.

SICILIAN LINKS Sicilianità Is Sicily 'Italy'? The Sicilian Languge
Cognomi ~ Sicilian Surnames Ngiurii ~ Sicilian Nicknames Place-names as surnames Sicilian Coats of Arms
Foundlings The Sicilian Naming Convention

Given Names

Convert Latin given names to Sicilian
La Bedda Sicilia ~ My history of Sicily Heritage Path ~ original Sicilian records Civil Record Format ~ 1820 - 1910 I'm a Sicilian American
My Lectures on Sicilian Genealogy Sicilian Occupations in Civil Records Sicilian Records at the Buffalo FHC Orphans, Foundlings and Illegitimates
Li Carusi ~ The Mine-boys Shortened Sicilian Given Names There is no letter "j" in Sicilian The Thing
Women's Surnames
       Read my book of historical fiction, The Lady of the Wheel, inspired by my experiences in Sicilian genealogical research.  It tells the story of foundlings and sulfur mine workers and life in their community of Racalmuto during the late 1800s in Sicily.  Interspersed in the tale are episodes derived from the real-life experiences of my family, which originated in the small Sicilian town of Serradifalco.





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