Category Archives: Trentino Surnames and Soprannomi

Articles on surnames and soprannomi (sometimes called ‘nicknames’) from the province of Trento, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. Tips for genealogists and family historians.

ZAMBIASI of Val di Non. Origins, Nobility, Theatre, Science

Zambiasi of Val di Non. Origins, Nobility, Theatre, Science.

Genealogist Lynn Serafinn discusses the Zambiasi family of Nanno and other parts of Val di Non, a noble title, and their contributions in theatre and science.

Spelling variants: Giambiasi; Joanbiasi; Joanblasis; Blasi; Biasi; Biasius

Zambiasi is a patronymic surname derived from the man’s personal name ‘Giovanni Biagio’.[i] The root ‘Zan’ is a derivative of the name Giovanni, which changes to ‘Zam’ (or ‘Giam’) which it is before a voiced consonant, such as the letter ‘B’.

Zambiasi of Nanno

The surname Zambiasi appears originated in Nanno in Val di Non, where it has been present at least since the early 1500s. In very early records for Nanno, you will sometimes find it written without the ‘Giovanni’ part of the name, such as ‘Biasi’ or other variants. Researchers should be careful not to confuse it with similar surnames in different parts of the province (Biagi, de Blasi, Blasiol, etc.), as these are not related to the Zambiasi.

The earliest Zambiasi I have found in my own research is a Biagio Zambiasi of Nanno, who was most likely born sometime in the 1530s, whose numerous descendants survive to this day. Through the centuries, we will find the man’s personal name ‘Biagio’ recurring many times in the Zambiasi lineage. By the 18th century, several branches of Zambiasi had expanded from Nanno (marked in yellow below) to other parts of Val di Non, including Cagnò (in pink), Taio (in green) and briefly in Mechel (turquoise mark within the comune of Cles).[ii]

Map of the comuni of Val di Non, with villages in which the Zambiasi lived highlighted.
Click on image to see it larger

Zambiasi of Cagnò

On 1 August 1777, Giuseppe Agostino Zambiasi of Nanno (Biagio’s 4X great-grandson) married Maria Maddalena Preti of Cagnò in the parish of Revò. [iii] Rather than settling in the husband’s parish, the couple chose to raise their family in Cagnò. A new Zambiasi line thus became established in Cagnò through their son Antonio.[iv] Thus, all Zambiasi of Cagnò are related to each other, and can also trace their lineage back to the patriarch Biagio Zambiasi of Nanno.

The Noble Francesco Zambiasi

On 5 September 1747, a title of bishopric nobility was granted by Prince-Bishop Domenico Antonio Thun to Francesco Zambiasi of Nanno,[v] a silk trader and a Lieutenant in the territorial militia.[vi] The stemma (coat-of-arms) granted to him depicted two hunting dogs standing on either side of a tree, with three gold stars in a field of blue in the upper half.[vii]

1747 stemma (coat-of-arms) granted to Francesco Zambiasi of Nanno by Prince-Bishop Domenico Antonio Thun.
Click on image to see it larger

Around the same time, Francesco married Franziska Fuchshuber (called Francesca in Italian records), who may have been from Vienna.[viii] [ix] I don’t have their marriage record to hand, but in the baptismal record of the first child onwards, you consistently see Francesco referred to as ‘Perillustris’ and ‘Illustris’ – terms used only for nobility.[x] Sometime between 1747-1749, the family moved to Taio (also in Val di Non).

Francesco died in Taio on 28 September 1772.[xi]

1772 death record of the noble Francesco Zambiasi of Nanno, living in Taio
Click on image to see it larger

At the time of his death, a stone was placed on his grave with the inscription:

Di questa pietra al piè

giace sepolto il nobile

Francesco Zambiasi

Tenente delle milizie urbane

per lui pregate parenti ed amici

e state alle sue voci attenti

This can loosely be translated: ‘At the foot of this stone is buried the noble Francesco Zambiasi, Lieutenant of the urban militias. Relatives and friends, pray for him, and pay attention to his “voices”.’

Writing in 1935, historian Marino Zambiasi believes these words infer that Francesco wished his wife Francesca to be buried next to me when she eventually passed away. Apparently, had had left a large empty space on the stone for the inscription that would have been made for her. However, he tells us, Francesca died many years later and very far away (in Graz, Austria), so Francesco’s final wishes ‘remained unheard’.[xii]

Years later, when the cemetery near the church of Santo Vittore in Taio was dismantled, this stone was moved to the wall of the Zambiasi house in Taio (the house itself is adorned with the stemma of the Slucca family, however).[xiii]

Zambiasi of Taio

The surname Zambiasi survives in Taio to this day, but the noble Francesco is not the patriarch of that line, as most of his family members appear to have migrated out of the province. Rather, Marino Zambiasi tells us that the founder of the Taio line is one Giuseppe Zambiasi, also of Nanno,[xiv] who died in Taio on 3 March 1773, when he was said to be about 62 years old.[xv]

Giuseppe ‘Bellomo’ Zambiasi

Moving back to the family of the noble Francesco and Franziska, their third child was a truly interesting and important personality in world of the arts. Born in Taio on 28 March 1754, he was baptised Giovanni Giuseppe Agostino Gabriele Zambiasi, but was known as Giuseppe.

1754 baptismal record of Giovanni Giuseppe Agostino Gabriele Zambiasi of Taio, later known as 'Joseph Bellomo'.
Click on image to see it larger

Only 18 years old when his father died, he left Trentino to take up a somewhat bohemian lifestyle with various theatre and opera companies, performing Italian opera and sing-spiel in Austria and Germany.

In 1776, the Della Tavola company of which he was a member was hired to perform in Graz, where he assumed the stage name ‘Bellomo’ or ‘Joseph Bellomo’. A curious choice of name, it could either mean ‘handsome man’ (bel uomo) or ‘man of war’ (bellum homo). Historian Marino Zambiasi proposes it was surely intended to be humorous, but it may also have been intended to give him some anonymity, as he had apparently cut off his relations with his family.[xvi]

On 29 September 1777 in Graz, he married singer Teresa Nicolini, another member of the travelling company.[xvii] Apparently not particularly gifted as an actor or singer, Joseph established himself as a manager behind the scenes. This is where his true talent emerged, and he eventually went on to become a widely acclaimed director of the Theatres of Weimar and Graz. He also became famous for producing lavish masked balls, dance evenings, carnival parties, soirées featuring touring celebrities of the era. Biographer Marino Zambiasi called him a ‘precursor to Goethe’.

‘Bellomo’ died in Graz on 18 October 1833, just a few months before his 80th birthday. He died a Zambiasi, as seventeen years earlier, he had reclaimed his original family surname.[xviii] [xix]

Zambiasi of Mechel

Another Zambiasi line started in parish of Mechel in the early 1800s, when Giovanni Zambiasi of Nanno (son of Giuseppe) married Teresa, daughter of Giovanni Leonardi of Mechel, and settled there.

Although the Mechel line appears to have died out by the end of that same century, their grandson, Giulio Zambiasi, became a renowned scientist and author.

Fr. Giulio Zambiasi of Mechel (1860-1909)
Fr. Giulio Zambiasi of Mechel (1860-1909), priest, author, scientist

Born in Mechel on 20 December 1860, Giulio was the son of Luigi Giovanni Zambiasi and Teresa Widman.[xx] Ordained a priest in 1884, he also obtained a degree in physical sciences in Rome.[xxi] He was an erudite scholar of physics and mathematics, with a particular interest in the study of acoustics in music.[xxii] [xxiii] He died in Rome on 19 March 1909.[xxiv]

Other Zambiasi lines

There are many other Zambiasi lines appearing in the Nati in Trentino index, showing births between 1815-1923.[xxv] Here is a list of those parishes/villages, with the year of the first birth appearing in that index: Denno (1816), Levico (1816), Mezzolombardo (1818), Flavon (1822), Tassullo (1829), Quetta (1860), Trento (1860), Barco (1866), Vigo di Ton (1905), Priò (1910), Torra (1910), Vervò (1921), Pressano (1922).

As I have yet to research these, I cannot say whether they can all be traced back to the original Nanno lines, but I suspect they might.

If you are seeking help researching your Zambiasi family, please feel free to contact me at https://trentinogenealogy.com/contact.


This article is from the first draft from my upcoming book Guide to Trentino Surnames for Genealogists and Family Historians. It will take me a few more years to complete this projects, but I hope you enjoy these offering as I go along.

Until next time!

Lynn Serafinn, genealogist at Trentino Genealogy

Warm wishes,
Lynn Serafinn
6 November 2022

P.S. I am currently taking client bookings for MARCH 2023 and beyond. If you would like to book a time to discuss having me do research for you, I invite you to read my ‘Genealogy Services’ page, and then drop me a line using the Contact form on this site. Then, we can set up a free 30-minute chat to discuss your project.

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NOTES

[i] This was my own assumption, but it is also confirmed by linguistic historian Aldo Bertoluzza in BERTOLUZZA, Aldo. 1998. Guida ai Cognomi del Trentino. Trento: Società Iniziative Editoriali (S.R.L.)., page 388.

[ii] Map of Val di Non from ANZILOTTI, Giulia Mastrelli. 2003. Toponomastica Trentina: i nomi delle località abitate. Trento: Provincia autonomia di Trento, Servizio Benni librari e archistici, page 321, but I have highlighted the villages using Photoshop.

[iii] Revò parish records, marriages, volume 2, page 149-150.

[iv] Giovanni Antonio Andrea Zambiasi (known mostly as Antonio) was born in Cagno on 18 June 1791. Revò parish records, baptisms, volume 5, page 714-715.

[v] TABARELLI DE FATIS, Gianmaria; BORRELLI, Luciano. 2005. Stemmi e Notizie di Famiglie Trentine. Trento: Società di Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche, page 303. I have not yet identified which Francesco he was. Possibly Francesco Antonio, born 9 August 1716, son of another Francesco and his wife Maria Cattarina.

[vi] NEUHUBER, Christian. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani – Volume 100 (2020). ‘Zambiasi, Giuseppe (in arte Joseph Bellomo).’ Accessed 30 October 2022 from https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/giuseppe-zambiasi_%28Dizionario-Biografico%29/.

[vii] TIROLER LANDESMUSEEN. Tyrolean Coats of Arms. ‘Zambiasi’. Accessed 6 November 2022 from http://wappen.tiroler-landesmuseen.at/index34a.php?id=&do=&wappen_id=29953&sb=zambiasi&sw=&st=&so=&str=&tr=99. I have Photoshopped the image to make it brighter.

[viii] NEUHUBER, Christian. 2020. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani – Volume 100. ‘Zambiasi, Giuseppe (in arte Joseph Bellomo).’ Accessed 30 October 2022 from https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/giuseppe-zambiasi_%28Dizionario-Biografico%29/.

[ix] ZAMBIASI, Marino. 1935. ‘Giuseppe Bellomo: un precursore di Volfango Goethe’. Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche. Year XVI (1935), volume XIII, Fasciolo 1, page 43. Accessed 5 November 2022 from http://pressviewpat.immanens.com/it/pvPageH5B.asp?skin=pvw&puc=002017&pa=54&nu=1935&annot=true&word=198.229.254.290.628#52

[x] Francesco and Francesca’s first child, Giovanni Francesco Gaspare, was born 27 November 1749. Nanno parish records, baptisms, volume 3, page 144-145. Their second child, Maria Isabella Gioseffa, was born 21 July 1751. Nanno parish records, baptisms, volume 3, page 194-195.

[xi] Taio death records, volume 3, page 59-60.

[xii] ZAMBIASI, Marino. 1935. ‘Giuseppe Bellomo: un precursore di Volfango Goethe’. Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche. Year XVI (1935), volume XIII, Fasciolo 1, page 43, note 2. Accessed 5 November 2022 from http://pressviewpat.immanens.com/it/pvPageH5B.asp?skin=pvw&puc=002017&pa=54&nu=1935&annot=true&word=198.229.254.290.628#52

[xiii] TABARELLI DE FATIS, Gianmaria; BORRELLI, Luciano. 2005. Stemmi e Notizie di Famiglie Trentine. Trento: Società di Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche, page 303.

[xiv] ZAMBIASI, Marino. 1935. ‘Giuseppe Bellomo: un precursore di Volfango Goethe’. Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche. Year XVI (1935), volume XIII, Fasciolo 1, page 44, note 2. Accessed 5 November 2022 from http://pressviewpat.immanens.com/it/pvPageH5B.asp?skin=pvw&puc=002017&pa=54&nu=1935&annot=true&word=198.229.254.290.628#52

[xv] Taio parish records, deaths, volume 3, page 59-60.

[xvi] ZAMBIASI, Marino. 1935. ‘Giuseppe Bellomo: un precursore di Volfango Goethe’. Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche. Year XVI (1935), volume XIII, Fasciolo 1, page 46. Accessed 5 November 2022 from http://pressviewpat.immanens.com/it/pvPageH5B.asp?skin=pvw&puc=002017&pa=54&nu=1935&annot=true&word=198.229.254.290.628#52

[xvii] ZAMBIASI, Marino, page 46-47. Zambiasi tells us Teresa was the daughter of Giuseppe Nicolini and Anna Gardini, and that she was born in Braunschweif in 1759.

[xviii] NEUHUBER, Christian. 2020. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani – Volume 100. ‘Zambiasi, Giuseppe (in arte Joseph Bellomo).’ Accessed 30 October 2022 from https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/giuseppe-zambiasi_%28Dizionario-Biografico%29/.

[xix] ZAMBIASI, Marino, page 46. The author says the official deed when he reclaimed his name is dated 29 January 1816.

[xx] Mechel parish records, baptisms, volume 2, page 176.

[xxi] ZANELLA, Silvano (Pr.). Confrades: Congregazione Sacre Stimmate. ‘Giulio Zambiasi (sacerdote).’ Accessed 30 October 2022 from http://www.confrades.com/morti/mortivwxyz/zambiasigiulio.htm.

[xxii] Two of his works on these subjects are Intorno alla misura degli intervalli melodici. Esperienze ed osservazioni (1901), and Sullo svolgimento storico-critico dei principi e criteri seguiti nel dare base scientifica alla musica (1905).

[xxiii] Author G. Gianfrancheschi has published an 8-page booklet on his scientific works entitled Giulio Zambiasi e la sua opera scientifica. Estratto dal Nuovo Cimento, fascicolo di Luglio-Agosto 1909.

[xxiv] His death date is noted by the above biographers, and it is also in a notation in his baptismal record.

[xxv] NATI IN TRENTINO. Provincia autonomia di Trento. Database of baptisms registered within the parishes of the Archdiocese of Trento between the years 1815-1923. https://www.natitrentino.mondotrentino.net/.

RESOURCES

ARCHIVIO DIOCESANO DI TRENTO. Parish registers (baptisms, marriages and death records) for Nanno, Taio, Revò, et. al.

ANZILOTTI, Giulia Mastrelli. 2003. Toponomastica Trentina: i nomi delle località abitate. Trento: Provincia autonomia di Trento, Servizio Benni librari e archistici.

BERTOLUZZA, Aldo. 1998. Guida ai Cognomi del Trentino. Trento: Società Iniziative Editoriali (S.R.L.).

NATI IN TRENTINO. Provincia autonomia di Trento. Database of baptisms registered within the parishes of the Archdiocese of Trento between the years 1815-1923. https://www.natitrentino.mondotrentino.net/.

NEUHUBER, Christian. 2020. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani – Volume 100. ‘Zambiasi, Giuseppe (in arte Joseph Bellomo).’ Accessed 30 October 2022 from https://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/giuseppe-zambiasi_%28Dizionario-Biografico%29/.

TABARELLI DE FATIS, Gianmaria; BORRELLI, Luciano. 2005. Stemmi e Notizie di Famiglie Trentine. Trento: Società di Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche.

TIROLER LANDESMUSEEN. Tyrolean Coats of Arms. ‘Zambiasi’. Accessed 6 November 2022 from http://wappen.tiroler-landesmuseen.at/index34a.php?id=&do=&wappen_id=29953&sb=zambiasi&sw=&st=&so=&str=&tr=99.

ZAMBIASI, Marino. 1935. ‘Giuseppe Bellomo: un precursore di Volfango Goethe’. Studi Trentini di Scienze Storiche. Year XVI (1935), volume XIII, Fasciolo 1, page 43. Accessed 5 November 2022 from http://pressviewpat.immanens.com/it/pvPageH5B.asp?skin=pvw&puc=002017&pa=54&nu=1935&annot=true&word=198.229.254.290.628#52.

ZANELLA, Silvano (Pr.). Confrades: Congregazione Sacre Stimmate. ‘Giulio Zambiasi (sacerdote).’ Accessed 30 October 2022 from http://www.confrades.com/morti/mortivwxyz/zambiasigiulio.htm.

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