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.


abbucatu: lawyer
: water supplier
adornista: decorator

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

barbiere: barber
: gravedigger, undertaker

bordonaro: muleteer

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

capraio, capraro: goatherd
: wool-carder

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

chiesiastrico: cleric, churchman
: upper-class citizen, civil servant
: peasant sharecropper

cordaio, cordaro: rope maker
u: goatherd

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

falegname: cabinetmaker, carpenter
: blacksmith

ferrofabbro: blacksmith

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

fornaro: baker
day laborer
: servant, employee

      industrioso: workman** in a wage or profit-making activity
: midwife

macellaio: butcher

maniscalco: blacksmith
: day laborer

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

molinaro: miller
mugnaio: miller
: 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

pisnente: peasant

possidente: landowner

ragioniere: accountant
(dei proietti): receiver of foundlings

rotaia, rotara: foundling wheel tender

ruotaia, ruotara: foundling wheel tender

sarto: tailor
: shoemaker
: 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
: liveryman
villanu: peasant sharecropper

      villico: peasant villager
veal raiser or purveyor
: commoner
      zolfaio, zolfaro, zolfataio, zolfataro
: sulfur miner
      zurfararu: 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.

**industrioso/a, literally translated, means "industrious" or hard-working, but when reported in a civil document, it is taken to mean the person was either employed outside the home and earning a wage, or involved in a 'cottage industry' in the home, producing some type of goods for sale and profit.  This is rather evident when it is noted that virtually ANY status could be hard-working, whether a peasant villager, a housewife, etc.   However, contadini did not earn wages; they shared a crop but were hard-working; casalinghi. as houswives, earned no wages but were hard-working.  If that was the case, why not list them ALL as "industriosi"?   A housewife who earned no income was a casalinga; a housewife who spun linen and sold it for a profit was an industriosa.  A peasant man with no steady job was a villico; a peasant man who owned a sheep or two and sold ricotta made at home was an industrioso.  A man or woman who worked in a factory or business outside the home, for wages, was an industrioso/a.

SICILIAN LINKS Sicilianità Is Sicily 'Italy'? The Sicilian Languge
Cognomi ~ Sicilian Surname Origins 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, Illegitimates, and Foundlings
Li Carusi ~ The Mine-boys Shortened Sicilian Given Names There is no letter "j" in Sicilian The Thing
  Womens' Surnames Masculine and Feminine Names  
       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.





Robertsdale, Pennsylvania






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