Baffa / Bassa
My surname is Baffa, and we're an Italian family. However, we're almost positive that our last name was shortened/changed at Ellis Island. It's possible that our last name was originally Bassa (which is an existing Sicilian last name), but we honestly don't know.If anyone has any etymology information on Baffa (and/or what it may have been shortened from) or Bassa, that would be greatly appreciated.
Whenever I climb, I am followed by a dog called Ego.
Tags:  Baffa, Bassa
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Hello, Baffa is an Italo-Albanian surname. Between 1450-1550, the King of the Two Sicilies imported Albanian soldiers and settled them and their families in villages/encampments in southern Italy and Sicily to consoidate his control of his kingdom. They came in 4 waves. The first wave settled in 12 villages quite south of Naples. The second wave settled in four villages in Sicily. The third wave was large and constituted refugee soldiers and civilians fleeing Ottoman Turkish conquest of Albania. They settled heavily in southern Italy and Sicily. The fourth wave constituted Albanian mercenaries and their families stationed in southern Greece, who were fleeing Ottoman conquest there.These Albanians are called Aberesh and came to speak their own language of Abereshe-- one of the four languages in the Albanian macro-language group. This ethnic community usually intermarried and maintained strong sense of cultural identity into the 20th century. The Italian government recognizes it as an official minority. Historically, the Abereshe were prized as fierce, high quality soldiers throughout southern Europe and particularly in Italy.The King of the Two Sicilies (Naples) commuted their taxes in favor of military service. Adult males were commonly either serving or mercenary soldiers or farmers/shepherds who owed the king military service when called up.There is a boatload of material on the Aberesh on the internet. The Baffa surname has been identified in some villages.All the Best!
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I know I'm super late in replying, but I had no idea Baffa could have any Arbereshe connections. I'm almost positive that my maternal great-grandfather was Arbereshe (Silvestro Cacozza - from Falconara Albanese, Italy) , but it would be super interesting if there was Arbereshe heritage on my father's side, as well.

This message was edited by the author 1/29/2018, 8:47 AM

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Baffa is a relatively common name in Italy as you can see at There were also plenty of Italian immigrants to the US bearing that name as shown at so there's really no reason to doubt its existence. You'll find a proposed etymology at
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Oh wow!We (that is, my family and I) have always figured it was butchered somewhere along the way--I had no idea it was a last name by itself. Thank you!

This message was edited by the author 11/18/2010, 9:41 AM

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