The Historical Research Center
Family Name History
The Italian surname Fugazzi is of occupational origin deriving from the regional word "fugazzi or fugazi" meaning "pizza". The modern Italian term "pizza" derives from the Old Italian term "pizzo", meaning "point". Pizza is defined as a dish of Neapolitan origin, consisting of a flattened disk of bread dough topped with olive oil, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese, not to be confused with modern day pizza. It is therefore possible to imagine the initial bearer of the name as someone employed in the baking industry whose trade involved the making of pizzas. Fugazzi may be considered to be a metonymic occupational surname, which arose from the term "fugazi" or "pizza" not only being applied to the object itself, but also to the person who was closely associated with it in some manner. The surname thus means "son or descendant of the pizza maker". Alternatively, the surname may be of nickname origin still deriving from the word "fugazi", but may have identified the bearer as someone with a predilection for pizza, who was given the nickname "Fugazzi" which he later adopted as his surname. Variants of the surname Fugazzi include Focacci, Fugazi, Fogazzi, and Fugassi. References to the surname or to its variants include the listing of a noble family bearing the surname Fogazzi, whose members included one Ugolino Fogazzi, who was a magistrate in Bologna in 1295. The coat of arms described below was granted to a family bearing the surname Fugazzi from Bergamo. It is interesting to note that this family also used the name Fugazi. The latter is pronounced Fugazy while Fugazzi is pronounced Fugatzy. In the United States this name is found in the form of Fugazy. The Italian-American scholar Joseph G. Fucilla tells that such phonetic renderings of Italian surnames is often the result of the desire to preserve the pronunciation of the original Italian name in an English speaking society.
Items Concerning the Fugazzi Name
There is a book by Gay Talese (published by: Alfred A. Knoph, New York, 1992) "Unto The Sons" that describes Italian immigration to the United States.
In this book Talese describes Northern Italians coming to the US in the late 1800â€™s as the first wave of "padroni" who were prospering legally, if at times exploitatively, as business agents and personal advisers to their usually less astute, less educated countrymen. This was long before there were Mafia "godfathers" coining money in America ... gangsters from Sicily and southern Italy." Many of the padroni apparently lived on the east coast and most in New York where the largest collection of Italian immigrants lived.
According to the book, perhaps the most eminent padrone in the United States at the time lived in New York City.... His name was Luigi Fugazy.... Born into a well-to-do northern Italian family in Piedmont, where his father was a teacher, Luigi Fugazy served as an officer in the Piedmontese royal army during the Risorgimento and briefly had been assigned to a unit commanded by Garibaldi. After sailing to New York in 1869 with a knowledge of English and a substantial inheritance from his father -- whose surname was Fugazzi, Luigi later changed to Fugazy, justifying it as a gesture toward assimilation -- he promptly increased his net worth by becoming a travel agent...a labor negotiator... and also the owner of a neighborhood bank and a service company that issued loans, provided translators and letter writers, and notarized immigrants'...documents. Luigi Fugazy also founded several Italian fraternal organizations, social clubs, and mutual aid societies.
Later, as Italians spread across the United States, padroni could be found in areas inhabited by large groups of Italians including California. (Interestingly, there is a popular and successful Club Fugazi in San Francisco today. This club, which has a long history of presenting whimsical musical performances, is housed in a stone building and has carved over its doorway the name "John F. Fugazi," exactly my fatherâ€™s name except for the missing "z" in the last name). It is said that the Northern Italians were better equipped to coexist in the US due to their generally higher level or education, their physical appearance, and their more tolerant attitude toward differences in customs and religion.
In June 1988, the "San Francisco Focus" magazine contained a small article as follows:
Fugazi Travel 1869 San Franciscoâ€™s oldest travel agency was established by Commander John F. Fugazi. Agenzia Fugazi helped Italian immigrants come to the US and, later, to send their hard-earned cash home to their families. And, yes, Beach Blanket Babylonâ€™s building â€“ Casa Fugazi â€“ is theirs, built in 1913.
1/26/97. Learned that there is an Italian museum on an upper floor of a bank building in SFâ€™s North Beach on Columbus Street:
North Beach Museum Historic photographs, artifacts. Mon-Thurs. 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Friday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Free. Eureka Bank, 1435 Stockton St. 415 391-6210.