Italian Language Blog

Firmato Diaz Posted by on Oct 19, 2009 in Culture

Here in Italy, as in many other parts of the world, it has long been fashionable to name one’s offspring after famous, or inspirational people. Once upon a time we Italians didn’t really have much choice about our first name, because the church decreed that it should be a ‘Christian name’ in the most literal sense. For females the most common one of course would be Maria, after La Madonna. My ‘Christian’ name for example is Maria Serena, my cousins are Maria Pia and Anna Maria, and I once had a friend with the wonderful name of Maria Etrusca (Etruscan Mary), oh how I envied her! In fact not so long ago in Italy our onomastico (name-day) was seen as more important than our compleanno (birthday), and people would receive gifts on the former rather than the latter.

Every day is a Saint’s Day. Today for example is Santa Laura, so if we see our friend Laura Vescovi later on it will be quite normal to wish her auguri (best wishes). Tomorrow will be ‘Santa Irene’, so anyone named Irene will celebrate her onomastico tommorrow.

All this leads me to a rather interesting and unusual first name: Firmato, and to discover its origins we need to travel back to the end of La Prima Guerra Mondiale (The First World War).

Armando Vittorio Diaz was the famous general and chief of general staff who in 1918 recovered what was left of the badly mauled Italian army and led them to victory against the Austrians. At the conclusion of the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, which ended WWI in Italy, Diaz issued, as a final address to the Army and the Nation, Il Bollettino della Vittoria (The Victory Bulletin). The Bollettino was probably written by General Siciliani, spokesperson for the General Staff.

Here are the final two paragraphs of the Bollettino della Vittoria: (You can find the complete text and a translation into English here).


L’Esercito Austro-Ungarico è annientato: esso ha subito perdite gravissime nell’accanita resistenza dei primi giorni e nell’inseguimento ha perdute quantità ingentissime di materiale di ogni sorta e pressoché per intero i suoi magazzini e i depositi. Ha lasciato finora nelle nostre mani circa trecento mila prigionieri con interi stati maggiori e non meno di cinque mila cannoni.

I resti di quello che fu uno dei più potenti eserciti del mondo risalgono in disordine e senza speranza le valli, che avevano disceso con orgogliosa sicurezza.

Firmato Diaz


Note the signature at the end of the Victory Address: ‘Firmato Diaz’, meaning ‘signed Diaz’. In the waves of patriotism following the Italian victory the entire Bollettino della Vittoria was frequently memorized by school children, always ending with those proud words ‘Firmato Diaz’. Many uneducated contadini (peasants) were very taken by the sound of those closing words, and erroneously believing Firmato to be  Diaz’s first name baptized their newborn sons Firmato (Signed).

Do you know anyone with an unusual name? Please share it with us in the comments section below.

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  1. Rick:

    I’m not sure if it’s an unusual name or not but my father was born in Castelfranco, Veneto and his first name was Desiderio. My uncle was Fortunato. I am told that they are not common names.

  2. Doriana Rosaria:

    I was born about 2 1/2 months after the Andrea Doria sank. Being the 32nd cousin (out of 34), my father wanted me to have a unique name. My parents are from Italy but living in the US. On the day that they moved back to NY from Florida, the Andrea Doria sank. They were just arriving in NYC when the ship sank. My father wanted me to have a name that was different from my cousins. So, he came up with Doriana, after the Andrea Doria.

  3. Serena:

    Salve Rick!

    Desiderio and Fortunato are not very common names, but they do exist, and they also have their “onomastico”: Desiderio is the 23rd May, Fortunato is the 14th October.

    A presto!


  4. Serena:

    Salve Doriana!

    It was very interesting to read about the history of your name, but it’s not a unique name, It does exist, and I had a neighbor called Doriana when I lived in Lucca. The name Doriana is variation of the name Dora, which comes from the Greek “Doron”, meaning “gift”, “present”. The onomastico for Dora is the 1st April. Auguri!


  5. Cardenas:

    My father’s name was miguel firmato cardenas born in the state of jalisco, mexico 1919

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