Name Help: Italian-American Names for Girls

NH Italian girl names

Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every Saturday, one reader’s name questions will be discussed. 

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

Summer writes:

My husband and I are expecting our second baby girl and fourth child in August. We have yet to find a name that really sticks out to us. I’m really looking for a name that best fits with my other children’s names: Giovanna (Gia) Charlotte, Vincent (Vinnie) Christopher, and Dominic (Dom) Patrick.

I would describe their names as American-Italian. Only Giovanna’s name is actually Italian but both Vincent and Dominic are widely used and accepted in the Italian community. All of their middle names are honor names.

For this baby, I’m planning on her middle name being Francesca, after my grandfather (Frank). I’ve considered Francesca as the first name, but we are big nickname people and I don’t like Fran or Frankie.

Our last name sounds like Mend and is a word name.

Some names we have considered/are considering:         h

  • Simona – not crazy about nickname Mona
  • Alessia – don’t want her to be mistaken for Alexia/Alexa/Alexis/Alyssa
  • Nina – LOVE it, but it’s my grandmother’s cat’s name
  • Giuliana – don’t like the nicknames Jules/Julie
  • Adriana – still a contender, but my husbands cousin has two daughters named Gianna and Arianna, nit sure if Giovanna and Adriana is too close?
  • Angelina – really on the fence. I like the nickname Lina, and it would honor my mom (Angela), but I feel like Angelina Francesca may be too much?
  • Eva – not sure exactly how common it is, but din’t want it to be confused for Ava. I do like Eva Francesca.
  • Gemma– I do like the name but don’t like the word first name – word last name combination.

If this baby were a boy, Dean would be the name. If Vincent and Dominic were girls, the name we had chosen was Isabella, but I have since gained a cousin with the name.

Please help!

Read on for my reply, and please add your helpful suggestions in the comments.

Hi Summer –

Congratulations on baby #4!

My initial reaction to your letter was this: Piece of cake! There are dozens of great Italian names for girls, and even more drawn from romance languages. Since so many are considered stylish right now, they’ll have lots of options!

But then I read your list again, and wow! This is a puzzle, isn’t it?

From your current list, I’m tempted to root for Eva, because Eva Francesca is gorgeous. Eva fits nicely with Gia, Vinnie, and Dom. But I wonder if it’s too short for you? The lack of an obvious nickname feels like a potential drawback.

You might consider Evelina or maybe Evalina. It’s Italian – at least the Evelina spelling is – and also opens the door to nickname Eva.

But, of course, Evelina Francesca isn’t any simpler than Angelina Francesca. There’s no reason you can’t use Evelina Francesca or Angelina Francesca, of course – but if it feels like too much name, I have another thought.

Would you consider shortening Francesca to Frances instead? In that case, Angelina Frances, nickname Lina, feels like the obvious choice.

I do think Adriana is awfully close to your cousins’ daughters names. But is this a cousin you see every few years at big family events, or a cousin who lives a few streets over? If you’re separated by considerable distance, it might be minimally confusing. If you live in the same town? Maybe it’s better avoided.

Some other ideas:

  • Antonia or even Antonella – I know, I’m not shortening anything by suggesting Antonella. Still, I think the Anthony names are worth consideration. First, they’re impeccably Italian. Second, Antonia leads to Nina as a nickname, while Antonella reminds me of Isabella, so I think they use sounds that you’ve previously considered.
  • Golden Aurelia is rising in the US, and it’s similar to Angelina. Except it doesn’t honor your mom, so I’m not sure it beats out Angelina. The similar Aurora has been big in Italy in recent years, is trending in the US, and comes with the fun nickname Rory.
  • Viviana reminds me of Eva, thanks to the ‘v’ sound, and feels nicely Italian. Vivi makes a great nickname, and it’s different from Gia. Though maybe you’d rather not have Vincent and Viviana?
  • Could it be that you’re just leaning more towards shorter names these days? Lina or Lena both seem like logical alternatives. It sidesteps the issuing of sharing Nina with an unpleasant cat, and it seems like you like Lina. The ‘e’ spelling – Lena – is much more popular as an independent name, but both work well.
  • This might be a longshot, but I’m tempted to recommend Cosima. It shortens to Mimi or Cosi or Coco, and it’s nicely Italian.

Overall, I think the question is whether you’re willing to reevaluate the middle name you’ve chosen. It makes sense to use family names as honor names in the middle spot. And yet, it can make choosing the first name a little more difficult.

If not Frances, other Francis names might work in the middle spot. Francine, maybe? Or even just France?

My favorite is to stick with Angelina, and shorten the middle name to Frances. It’s less distinctively Italian – but then, Charlotte and Patrick aren’t Italian, or even Italian-American.

If not Angelina Frances, I think you should take a good look at Eva Francesca. The lack of nickname feels like a departure from your older kids’ names, but I don’t think it’s impossible.

Readers, what would you suggest? Is Angelina Francesca too much name? Are there other Italian names for girls I’ve overlooked?

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I would love a name update! I love Italian names. Hubby and is Italian/Spanish, and we are both so drawn to them. I really don’t think a first and middle 3-syllable name is too much.

I had thought of Elena, Emilia, Alessandra, Bianca, Valentina, Vinceza, Lucretzia, Lucia. My daughter is Alina Sofia. Seems to have the sounds you were looking for (Angelina, Nina).

I really like Eva Francesca and Alessia Francesca that we’re mentioned.

My name is Francesca. My family was always adamant that I would not be a Fran or Franny. My nickname has always been Ces. I tell people, “Ces, like the game (chess).” I sometimes get mistaken as Jess, or if the person doesn’t know me well but has seen my name written, they might call me Sess. I have one friend who says C(h)ez instead. I just flow with it.

How about Alessandra? Lots of nickname options.

For what it’s worth, one nickname option for Francesca that I don’t think anyone has mentioned is Frenchie.

also wanted to chime in with an endorsement for Nina. It’s a beautiful underused name, and I would let a family pet name be a deal breaker!

What about Juliet (or Juliette) Francesca or Camille Francesca? I love Angelina, Nina, Eva or Evalina too. I think the names with a endings aren’t 100% ideal sounding with Francesca but they aren’t bad at all (and I actually like the overly romantic sound) and better to go with 2 names you love since after a baby is born, their middle name is so rarely used.

As an Italian with all these names in my family (which is collectively VERY disappointed in my name choices, haha), I am really feeling Graciela or Chiara for you. Gracie, of course, and Chiara in full. Graciela Francesca (or Graciela Simone?), and Chiara Angelina are my favorites, I think.

Marina, nn Mia, Mina, Rina or even Nina. Marina Frances or Marina Francesca both work. You could also use Nina as a nn for Francesca, as it means “little girl” is some Romance languages. (I wouldn’t worry too much about the cat.) Of Abby’s suggestions, I love Angelina Frances. How about Francesca Angel? You could call her Fae/Fay if the Ches- nns don’t appeal to you. Fiorella Francesca (Fifi/Ella)? Good luck!

what about Raffaella? I love this name! Rae or Ella would be super cute shortened name.

I love the suggestions of Evelina and Antonia.

I love Emilia and Julietta (Etta is such a fabulous nn). Or Rosetta or Rosalie.

What about Luciana, nn Lucy?

I love Simona (and Simone) but I hear ya, I’m not a huge fan of Mona.

Good luck!

If you could still consider it in the first spot, what about Chessy as a nickname for Francesca?

Of the suggestions like Eva Francesca but do think the short first name breaks with your existing sibset but does fit more tecent trends. I don’t think it matters that Angelina Francesca is a long name if your surname is short as full names are rarely said aloud.
Other suggestions that have an italian vibe with good nicknames:
Alina, Paulina or Selina nn Lina
Annata nn Nattie
Addora nn Addy
Calista nn Callie
Catalina nn Cat
Carina nn Carrie or Rina
Delfina nn Delly
Leona nn Leo or Ona
Melina nn Mel
Merinda nn Merri
Marina nn Rina

We have a family member naming her daughter Contessa but I think it’s a bit much with Francesca. I think Nina is lovely!

If Nina is the name you love, I think you should use it. My personal choice would be Adriana. It’s beautiful and I don’t think having cousins with similar names is a problem. Angelina Francesca isn’t “too much.” I like that it honors two relatives without straying too far from the names you’re trying to honor (a pet peeve of mine).

What about Carmen or Carmela? I love and cherish these names. I like nn Callie for Carmela. Carmen doesn’t really lend itself to a nn but its so classy. Maybe it’s a too close to Charlotte? I kind of that either of these names would pull in Charlotte toward the other names. Florence was a wonderful suggestion. And Abby’s suggestions of Antonia or Cosima, swoon!
Going along with the feel of your boys names, Italian feeling without being straight up Italian, I also offer you Rosemary nn Romy.
Still despite so many gorgeous options, I think Angelina Frances nn Lin a is best.

What about Emilia or Emiliana? So many nickname options! Emmy, Mila, Millie, Lia (rhymes with Gia though), Ana. I LOVE Emiliana/Emilia nn Mila. Mila, Gia, Vinnie, Dom. Emiliana/Emilia Francesca is a lot but honestly it sounds gorgeous. Or as suggested you can use Francis instead. Emilia Francis. Emiliana Frances. I think Francis nicely complements Gia’s middle name of Charlotte while still honoring Frank.

Antonia (nn of Nina) is FABULOUS.
Any comments of, “But that’s Grandma’s cat!” can be met with a wink and an easy, “Grandma’s got good taste!”

Antonia Angela might be a lovely possibly, too. Perhaps you will have more children, and Frank will be used on them.

Another nickname for Francesca is Chess: Gia, Vinnie, Dom, & Chess. Chez is another! Gia, Vinnie, Dom, & Chez. Perhaps not as feminine as you’d like? Hmm…

Antonella gives you the adorable nickname of Nellie. Gia, Vinnie, Dom, & Nellie.

Siena is an Italian city. Sissy is an obvious nickname.

Oh, my! What about Florence?! Florence Angela! Fliss, Flossy, Flora, Renna… how wonderful does Gia, Vinnie, Dom, & Flora sound?! If you named her Florence Francesca, her nickname could also be Fifi.

You’ve got a good thing going here! Best wishes, and please let us know what you decide.

I was going to suggest Cecelia nn Cece or Celia nn Lia.

However, I think what it seems makes this challenging is that a lot of Italian girls names are long and end in an “a”, making it hard to pair with a long, ends in an “a” middle name. Is there another way to honor your grandfather through a nickname he had or his middle name or some kind of association? That might open more doors to some of these great names you love.

Omg! So many gorgeous options! I love Evelina Frances (nn Evie). Aurelia Francesca is lovely too. Lots of nn options for Aurelia. Or what about Alina/Alena or even Alayna? Alina Francesca is beautiful! Cosima is growing on me, but probably because I’m in love with Mimi. I love Arabella and Gemma as well. But my hands down favorite (and she’s a top contender on my list) is Alessia. I say just go for it and not worry about the Alexis/Alyssa mixup. People would figure it out. Alessia Francesca is golden! (Although I prefer Alessia Frances a tiny bit more). You can’t go wrong with any of these names in my opinion. Congrats!

I love the name Cosmia! This is the name of one of the characters on the BBCA show ‘Orphan Black.’ She is brainy and fun.

Nina Francesca sounds dreamy. I was named after my mother’s cat, and honestly it became a cute family joke and not much more.

My other favorite names: Silvia, Simonetta (nn Nettie), Amalia (nn Mali/Molly), Adelina, Nerina (nn Nina or Rinie), Valentina (nn Lena, Teeny, Nina)

My two favourite names haven’t been mentioned! Fiorella and Tullia. I think both would be wonderful on your sibset and I’d swoon with envy, as I have no Italian roots to use them.

How about Giuditta, the Italian form of Judith? Nicknames could be Judy, Jude, or Dee (close to Dean!). Or maybe Arabella?

Please don’t let your grandmother’s dog let you miss a lovely and underused name like Nina!
If that is truly resonating as your 1st choice, a dog that will not be around forever (and not even your dog at that) will hopefully not be enough to dissuade you from its use.
Good luck!